BAYTOWN

For the second straight season, penalty kicks spelled doom for Texas City in a third-round playoff match, as the Kingwood Park Panthers edged out the Stings, 5-4, in the shootout to come away with the win in the teams’ Region III-5A quarterfinal Tuesday.

“The game is cruel sometimes,” Texas City head coach Steve Allan said. “When it comes down to penalties, it can be like a flip of a coin.”

After neither team could find a game-winning goal in regulation and overtime, the two sides entered the penalty kick shootout after battling to a 3-3 draw.

It came down to crunch time in the PK shootout as both sides made each of their first four attempts, with Texas City’s goals coming from senior goalkeeper Eric Ramirez, junior Julio Rivera, senior Johan Rodriguez and senior Rylan Hara. But after Kingwood Park completed a perfect five-for-five first round of PKs, Texas City’s final attempt sailed high for a gut-wrenching defeat.

A highly physical match got broken wide open with a flurry of goals from both sides late in the first half.

Kingwood Park drew first blood in the 21st minute after a header attempt off a set piece bounced off the crossbar and freshman Kaden Banning booted the rebound into the back of the net.

Ramirez converted a penalty kick following a Kingwood Park foul in the 18-yard box to tie the match, 1-1, in the 29th minute.

Kingwood Park senior Mauricio Garza took advantage of a defensive miscue which saw the Panthers take a 2-1 lead in the 35th minute, but Texas City responded about a minute later with two goals — one on a header and another on a breakaway — within 2 minutes of each other from Rodriguez, and the Stings took a 3-2 lead into the halftime intermission.

“I thought the guys showed real character; they went behind twice in the first half, and they fought back both times and even took the lead,” Allan said. “I’m proud of them.”

In the 19th minute of the second half, Garza knotted the score, 3-3.

Kingwood Park had Texas City in precarious spots a couple times after that, but the Stings defense was able to clear away the danger. The Stings did not have as many solid scoring opportunities in the second half despite playing against the wind, which is their preferred position in breezy conditions like Tuesday.

In the two overtime periods, Kingwood Park nearly won it on two occasions, but Ramirez made a pair of incredible saves. With a little more than 2 minutes to go in the final overtime period, Rivera nearly gave Texas City the match-winner on a beauty of a shot on a free kick from 22 yards out, but the shot hit the cross bar.

Texas City graduates just six seniors from the roster, but all were key players — Ramirez, Rodriguez, Hara, Cody McKnight, Ed Moninghoff and Tony Navarro.

James LaCombe is the sports editor of the Galveston County Daily News. He can be reached at james.lacombe@galvnews.com

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