Robert E. Lee forward Tanner Tebbetts picked a great time for his first varsity hat trick.
The senior scored twice in the first half and grabbed his third with one minute remaining to lead the Red Raiders past Mesquite 5-2 Friday at Lee Soccer Field.
It was the District 11-5A opener for both teams and the perfect league start for Tebbetts.
“We played hard and did what we had to do tonight,” said Tebbetts, who now has eight goals this season.
“We came out, stayed strong and went at them hard.”
Lee also received goals from senior Eddie Esparza and junior Mikey Wilkins off unassisted set plays. Esparza beat Mesquite’s keeper with a swerving corner kick in the first half with Wilkins doing the same thing on a free kick in the second half.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” said Lee coach Marty Germany about the two wind-aided goals. “We finished a little better tonight and with Tebbetts (scoring); that’s what we’ve missed the last four or five years is having a guy who is going to be dangerous when he gets the ball.”
The Red Raiders (8-3-3, 1-0-0) had only two shots in the second half, but scored on both of them. Mesquite dropped to 5-6 overall and 0-1 in district play.
Mesquite outshot the Red Raiders 16-11 with senior keeper Austin Martel making 13 saves, many coming from long-range efforts. Martel also benefitted from George Martinez clearing two balls of the line.
All was not perfect on the night for Lee as senior midfielder and captain Reed Pool had to leave the game late in the first half because of a shoulder injury and did not return. He is questionable for Lee’s game Tuesday at North Mesquite.
Lee raced out to a 2-0 lead before Mesquite had attempted a shot. Tebbetts put the Red Raiders on the board after he slammed a long-range blast into the net off a pass from Giovanni Sosa. Esparza’s wind-aided corner kick doubled the lead at the 17-minute mark.
The Skeeters then began to flex their muscles with Martel saving a long shot from Joseph Tapia followed by Melvin Gutierrez Santos ghosting in at the back post, but he placed his header over the bar.
Lee made it 3-0 with five minutes left in the half when Case Carnes played a pass to Tebbetts behind the defense and the forward did the rest.
The Red Raiders’ good feelings were quickly extinguished as Mesquite turned a scramble in the box into its first goal. The Skeeters nearly scored again a minute later on a long-range shot from Juan Tellez that beat Martell, but hit off the cross bar before Martinez cleared it off the line.
Mesquite had the wind in the second half and proceeded to fire shot after shot at Martel, hoping for a breakthrough.
Then Wilkins turned Lee’s only shot on goal in the second half to that point into a 4-1 lead.
Mesquite’s Jose Salas’ individual brilliance made it 4-2. With six minutes to play, the forward scored on a perfectly executed scissor kick. The Skeeters nearly cut the lead further a minute later as a scramble in the box ultimately led to a second ball cleared off the line by Martinez.
The Skeeters were forced to push up and Tebbetts took advantage, getting behind the defense on a breakaway pass from Carnes to slot home the final goal and complete his hat trick.
“It was tough when Reed Pool went down because that cost us a lot in midfield and with the wind picking up the second half, we spent the majority of time in our end,” Germany said. “But the guys worked hard and we got the win.”
Lee won the JV match 2-1. Travis Bell scored the first goal and Erick Vargas notched the second for the Red Raiders.
Lady Raiders 2, Mesquite 0
Robert E. Lee achieved a win in its District 11-5A opener Friday with second-half goals from Brooke Johnston and Taylor Tillson.
The game was scoreless until the 17 minute mark of the second half when Abby Jameson slotted a pass behind the defense to Johnston, who did the rest for her ninth goal of the season.
The Lady Raiders (8-2-2, 1-0) doubled their lead with three minutes left when freshman Betsy Arellano played a pass to Tillson, who beat the keeper for her third goal of the year. Lee’s Allie Telscher notched her fifth clean sheet of the season.
“It was nice to get a shutout,” Lee coach Chris Woodard said. “Mesquite played very hard and made it very difficult for us. I was proud of our girls for persevering and finding a way to score some goals.”