HEWITT — With about 5 minutes left in regulation and their team needing a goal to keep its season afloat, a “Let’s go, Temple” chant erupted from the Wildcats’ supporters section.
Carlos Hernandez Velasquez gave them something to gleefully holler about when he, in dramatic fashion, netted his eighth goal of the season to pull Temple even at 2-all against Mansfield Lake Ridge with 56 seconds left on the clock, sending the scintillating Class 6A bi-district playoff match into overtime Thursday night.
But the Eagles’ had the final say during the extra session, using Jackson Turley’s goal in the first of two 10-minute OT portions to down the Wildcats 3-2 at Midway’s soccer complex.
Lake Ridge (20-3-2), the runner-up in District 11-6A, advanced to play either Tyler Legacy (15-2-5) or Garland (14-8-2) in the area round.
Temple, which finished third in 12-6A and just four points out of first place, ended its season at 12-5-5, including the program’s return trip to the postseason after a five-season absence. The Wildcats nearly advanced to the second round like that 2016 squad, too.
“We had kids that stepped up and competed right down to those last seconds, and I’m proud of them for the way they competed,” Temple head coach Matt Corley said.
The tally by Hernandez Velasquez, who sprinted over to the chain-link fence that separated the field from the fans and celebrated in a mob of teammates, canceled out Chase Turcotte’s goal in the 70th minute that gave the Eagles their first lead, 2-1.
“This ground is starting to get slippery and I jumped up to celebrate, hit the ground and wiped out,” Corley said of Hernandez Velasquez’s tying goal. “But, just proud that those kids didn’t give up and give in.”
Turley, though, scored 7 minutes into overtime, and the goal stood as the difference.
Angel Medrano provided Temple with an ideal first-half start, finishing an assist that was headed down into the penalty box by Hernandez Velasquez to lift the Wildcats ahead 1-0 in the seventh minute.
After conceding Medrano’s goal — his 22nd of the season — the Eagles enjoyed more of the possession through the midfield and were on the front foot trying to navigate a well-organized Temple defense for the majority of what was left in the first half, aiming seven shots on target to the Wildcats’ two during the opening 40 minutes.
Lake Ridge rewarded itself in the 16th minute with the equalizer on Donovan Hawkins’ shot from distance that tailed away from diving goalie Jose Renteria, who got his hands on the dipping ball without enough force to keep it out.
It stayed 1-all through a chunk of an increasingly physical, hard-fought and energetic second half that included a few players from each team experiencing cramps, until Turcotte’s goal. And the excitement only grew from there.
“It’s a statement to our kids, I think, to be able to push a team to their limits as well,” Corley said. “But, they got the most goals by the final whistle.”