By JIM OTTS, Register Correspondent

On a night when one player chalked up a hat trick, another had three assists and the home team won 5-1, it seems unlikely the game maker was a save by the keeper.

That was the case Tuesday when Gainesville Leopard goal keeper Mark Vargas dove to his left to stop a penalty kick try by Wichita Falls Hirschi midfielder Jose Martinez.

“All I can say is it was a really good thing Mark stopped that penalty kick,” Leopard Coach Daniel Lundy said.

The Leopards held a 1-0 edge at the intermission, but that evaporated early in the second half with the first penalty kick by Martinez. Vargas guessed wrong on that one and dove to his right, but very nearly blocked the shot with his feet as he was falling away.

The tie gave the Huskies a psychological lift and that was not diminished much when the Leopards regained the lead 2-1 with a throw in from Steven Arenas that Ricky Fowler headed into the net.

Elation reigned on the Hirschi sideline when the referee called a foul inside the penalty area and pointed at the charity spot. Martinez had already made one and this one would have knotted the bout a second time.

“That save was crucial. If he (Martinez) makes that one we are tied again and the Hirschi kids were already playing with a lot of momentum and emotion,” Lundy said. “It could have been an entirely different game if Mark had not stopped the shot.”

The wind went from the Hirschi sails with the missed chance and Arenas went on his spree, scoring three in the span of five minutes, to blow open what had been a tightly contested battle.

Tuesday was senior night at the soccer match and the 11 seeing their last home action in the Leopard red and white were introduced before the match.

Those are Juan (Chico) Gonzalez, Milo Puente, Andres Cardenas, Octavio Martin, Juan Franco, Clay Montgomery, Juan Govea, Sergio Saenz, Arenas, Kolby Kuykendall and Timothy Stockwell.

Puente could not play because of a red card received last Friday against Wichita Falls Rider, but the other 10 started the game with Vargas, a sophomore, and played 18 minutes before Lundy made substitutions. They also started the second half and went 12 minutes together.

“I wanted those guys to score a goal as a group,” Lundy said. “They had a lot of near misses but just couldn't quite get it in the net.”

Jamie Seatherton got the first half goal for the Leopards with a header that finished off a Casey Martin corner kick. That came with 12:39 remaining in the first half.

Arenas got the first of his three the easy way. Franco did the work getting the ball along the left touch line and behind the defenders and then sent a perfect pass across the face of the goal that required only a deft touch by Arenas.

Casey Martin got his second assist with a shot from the right side that went just outside the back post where Arenas awaited. The one-touch redirection happened too fast for Hirschi keeper Vincent Cole to react.

The Martin to Arenas combination worked again moments later. This time Martin threw the ball from the touch line toward Arenas, who shielded defenders away as the ball rolled past and then turned to chase it down behind the Huskie back line.

Gainesville kept its chance for second place in the District 5-4A race alive with one game remaining in the regular season. Wichita Falls High has played all its games and finished with 17 points. The Leopards have 16, but can pick up two more with a win Saturday over the Sherman Bearcats.


Shots on Goal 36 14

Goals Scored 5 1

Keeper Saves 7 14

Corner Kicks 9 2

Fouls 10 7

Offside 2 1

Yellow Cards 0 0

Red Cards 0 0

GOALS: GLE - Jamie Seatherton (27:21), assist Casey Martin. Ricky Fowler (51:44), assist Steven Arenas. Arenas (62:14), assist Juan Franco. Arenas (65:47), assist Casey Martin. Arenas (67:36), assist Casey Martin. Hirschi - Jose Martinez (46:31), penalty kick.

CARDS: GLE - None. Hirschi - None.

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