When only two points, with just three matches left in the season, separate the top three teams in the district, every match is huge for those three squads.
On Wednesday, it was Friendswood picking up a key win, as the Mustangs defeated the Clear Lake Falcons, 1-0, at Henry Winston Stadium.
“It was big,” Friendswood head coach Stephen Peter said. “I don’t think we played the best that we could play, but, obviously, Clear Lake had a lot to do with that. They’re fighting for a playoff spot, as well, and it showed. They played with a lot of heart and desire, and was a tough opponent tonight.”
The win, for now, puts Friendswood (8-2-2 in District 24-6A) in first place in 24-6A, as both Alvin (7-1-3) and Dickinson (6-1-4) will try to play catch-up in their respective matches 7:30 p.m. Thursday, with the Yellowjackets playing at Clear Falls (4-5-2) and Dickinson hosting Clear Creek (5-6-0).
“We’re still a work in progress, even though we’re 23 games in,” Peter said. “But, when we’re clicking, we can be a good team. There are times when we struggle, but we can always fall back and trust ourselves, defensively.”
For the Falcons (2-6-4), the defeat likely puts them out of playoff contention, while Clear Creek and Clear Falls will battle for the district’s fourth and final playoff seed down the home stretch of the regular season.
In Wednesday’s match, the sequence for the Mustangs’ go-ahead goal came in the match’s 54th minute when senior midfielder Zach Montz passed to junior midfielder Ethan Gamero near the top of the box, but had the ball cleared by Clear Lake’s defense back out to Montz.
Montz’s ball into the box was then cleared out to senior striker Kyle Harner, who sent a shot from about 30 yards out booming into the bottom, right corner of the Falcons’ goal for the 1-0 lead.
“We don’t have anybody who has more than six goals, so we’ve been kind of spreading the wealth,” Peter said. “Josh Murphy, our center forward, is the one who has six, and he’s been doing a lot with his back to the goal.”
That turned out to be all the Mustangs needed, as defenders Jake Pisell, Evan Birsinger, Josh Peterson and Michael Black and goalkeeper Mason Hunnicutt earned the clean sheet.
“I think we were very composed defensively and never panicked,” Peter said. “We got disorganized a couple of times, but for the most part, and for the most part all year, we’ve just been a nice, organized group back there and calm under pressure.
“That’s what’s getting us wins; we have 12 shutouts on the year now,” Peter added. “We’re averaging right at one goal per game and about 1.5 in district and about half a goal a game against. So, we’re not blowing anybody out.”
Clear Lake’s best chance to score came in the match’s 22nd minute when the Falcons’ leading goal scorer, senior forward Patrick Owusu, managed to dribble the ball deep into Friendswood’s box. But, Peterson used his chest to deflect Owusu’s shot at the goal safely into Hunnicutt’s grasp to end the threat.
While Clear Lake began the second half more aggressive and the final 40 minutes was fairly even, possession-wise, Friendswood was in control for most of the first half, earning seven corner kicks to just one for the Falcons and sending multiple crosses into the box.