IOWA COLONY – The Foster boys’ soccer team already had made program history this season by reaching the Region III-5A semifinals. The Falcons came into Tuesday’s match knowing that they are a good team.
But sometimes a good team has its struggles against a physically talented team.
Kingwood Park has the size, speed and defensive awareness to be one of the top 5A teams in the Houston area, and the Panthers showed that talent in a 4-1 win over Foster at Freedom Field to advance to the regional finals.
“I can coach a lot of things, but there are things I cannot coach: size and speed like (Kingwood Park) has,” Foster head coach Rob DeStefano said. “We can work harder and be a better team next year since we return a lot of guys, but I want to be happy for what we accomplished this year.
“We made school history by our soccer program making it to the regional semifinals this year, so I’m extremely proud of these guys, and a real credit to this senior class.”
The Panthers used the wind to its advantage early, getting some good scoring opportunities to test Foster junior goalkeeper Ezekiel Cerda. Kingwood Park almost got a goal on a deflected freekick eight minutes into the match, but the Panthers were called offsides.
In the 10th minute, Cerda took a ball to the face and had to leave the match, meaning senior Geraldo Zuniga had to come in as keeper for the Falcons. But two minutes later, Kingwood Park got a strong kick by senior forward Gage Guerra that went to the low right corner of the net for a goal and a 1-0 lead.
Cerda would return to the field in the 14th minute, but the Panthers kept pushing offensively, as Guerra went down the sideline and made a perfect pass in the box to senior midfielder Nathan Jimerson, who deflected the pass past Cerda for another Panther goal and a 2-0 advantage.
Guerra would strike again in the 29th minute, as he powered a shot from 20 yards out in the top corner of the net for Kingwood Park’s third goal.
Foster struggled to get things going offensively as the Panthers’ backfield prevented the Falcons from maintaining possession for most of the first half. The biggest scoring opportunity came in the 36th minute, as a freekick from senior forward Kevin Vallone hit the crossbar and go out of bounds.
But in the second half, Foster used the wind to open up its offensive attack. Long kicks allowed Falcon forwards to get space and create opportunities. But Foster could only muster one goal, as senior midfielder Numan Osagie put a header in goal from 10 yards out in the 43rd minute.
Foster had a couple more shots on goal in the second half, but all were turned away by Kingwood Park sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Keelen. Then the Panthers pushed back and took back the momentum and began putting pressure on Foster.
Zuniga was back in net for the second half, and held his own until with eight and a half minutes left in the match, when Jimerson spun around and put a shot in the low left corner out of Zuniga’s reach for the final goal of the match.
Kingwood Park moves to 24-2-1 on the season and will face Hendrickson in the regional championship. Foster’s season ends with an 18-6 record.