Tears of frustration welled in the eyes of Dripping Springs Tiger junior Max Gonzales Friday as he and teammates commiserated a campaign they felt had ended far too soon.
Struggles in a variety of areas, including on the offensive end, brought Dripping Springs’ season to a close in a heartbreaking 2-1 regional quarterfinal loss to the Kerrville Tivy Antlers at Tiger Stadium.
While they finished a game shy of their goal, Gonzales said success built in 2019 could be a springboard for more next season.
“This is something to build on for our underclassmen,” Gonzales said. “Hopefully I can lead the team next year to go even deeper in the playoffs. But it shows you have to work hard every day if you want to go farther.”
Part of Dripping Springs’ struggles stemmed from the inability to capitalize on a handful of scoring opportunities throughout the contest. Josh Hill, Dripping Springs head coach, said the Tigers created plenty of chances with their aggressive tempo of play.
Dripping Springs (17-4-7) out-shot Tivy 15-8 in the contest, which included rattling off 10 shots in the first 40 minutes.
But the Tigers couldn’t get the ball past senior goalkeeper Stephen Canty, who notched a handful of saves to keep Dripping Springs off the board. The Tigers also were at times their own worst enemy, unable to put away their chances, Gonzales said.
“We weren’t composed in front of the goal,” Gonzales said.
Tivy, however, took advantage of its opportunities, primarily on set pieces. Both Antler goals scored in the match came off of corner kicks.
Tivy struck first at the 17-minute mark of the first half to take a 1-0 lead.
Dripping Springs responded early in the second half when Gonzales worked the ball from the midfield and snuck a shot past Canty to tie the match at 1-1.
Hill said moving Gonzales to a different side of the pitch allowed him to take advantage of slower defenders.
“I took a touch pass and got a wide open goal and I put it in the left corner,” Gonzales said.
Set piece struggles, however, bit the Tigers several minutes later when Tivy ran a trick corner kick play, Hill said.
The move allowed the Antler offense to find senior Joel Pelton, who rifled a long-range shot to score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal with 21 minutes left.
“It was the same kind of corner kick that we do and the guy hit a great shot,” Hill said. “It wasn’t an easy shot and he hammered it,” Hill said.
Despite falling a game short of the regional tournament for a second straight year, Hill lauded the play of the senior class, which carried the program deep into the postseason.
Eyeing a chance to possibly make a run at state will continue to be the goal.
“I know it’s hard for the seniors now, but we wouldn’t be here without them,” Hill said. “They played with heart and had a great work ethic. They’ll be missed.”