Bulldawgs fall to Mansfield 3-1 in Bi-district playoffs
By TJ MAXWELL
WACO - It wasn’t the ending to the storybook season that Copperas Cove head coach Tyler Frank wanted for his team after ending a 22-year playoff drought, but he really liked the fight his team showed Friday at Waco ISD Stadium in the Bulldawgs 3-1 loss to Mansfield in the Bi-district round of the UIL soccer playoffs.
“We just put it into perspective. Everything that could have happened over the last 22 years. None of the guys were born and some weren’t even thought of. We put in a lot of work in the offseason and they came together. They’ve been playing together for three years and it shows. Hopefully next year we can build upon it.
It was a chippy game from the start, but got more aggressive as time went on.
“They were going in for hard challenge after hard challenge,” said coach Frank. “Hopefully, we get a cleaner game where those challenges don’t get heavier and heavier as the game goes on, but it is what it is. We had our chances but they didn’t fall, but we pushed to the the last minute and that’s what really matters.”
Everything seemed to be going right for the Bulldawgs as a battle in the box resulted in a Copperas Cove goal just 1:25 in to the match after Cove sophomore Darrius Gray made a shot on goal and junior Justin Carrion-Hernandez followed with a second-chance goal for the 1-0 Cove lead.
The Tigers evened the match up in in the 15th minute with a solo goal by Quinlan Lindley for the 1-1 tie with 25:46 left in the first half.
The Tigers then became more aggressive with several shots on goal that resulted in five saves by senior goalkeeper Ayden Seymour to keep the match tied.
Mansfield then had a few more opportunities with a pair of corner kicks and a free kick before Bryan Linares found the back of the net on a scramble play in the 312st minute for a 2-1 lead with 9:05 left in the first half.
What started as an aggressive game of hand checks between the teams, evolved into a display of yellow cards for the remaining 49 minutes of action, starting with a shoving match late in the first half.
A couple of shots on goal by Cove senior Justin Crook missed the mark as time expired in the first half.
The Tigers again came out firing to start the second half with Seymour managing a pair of saves in the first eight minutes of action.
Another attempt by Crook and one by junior Saymon Taylor on the rebound just missed the mark and two more shots by Mansfield were gathered by Seymour.
A penalty called in the box set up the Tigers with a penalty kick in the 66th minute where Daniel Mucino converted to the left side of the net for the 3-1 lead for the Tigers.
The match ended with five more yellow cards being called on both teams before time expired with the 3-1 final score.
The Bulldawgs will lose Seymour, Crook and senior Joshua Caal to graduation but will be returning 20 juniors as well as several underclassmen.
“We’re losing three starters straight down the spine of our team,” said Frank. “We’re losing our midfield, our striker and our keeper. We’re going to potentially have 20 seniors next year and that leadership and experience could really carry them forward.”