LONGVIEW — John Tyler made it interesting again, yet made it out with another playoff win.
The Lions let a two-goal lead slip away, only to work its way back in front of a 4-2 victory over Texas High in a Class 4A boys' area soccer playoff at Longview High School.
Jose Arroyo scored twice for the Lions, Jose Hernandez recorded one goal and one assist, and Abner Barrera found the net once as JT qualified for sectionals a third straight season.
Hernandez headed a second-half charge, knocking in the go-ahead goal off a head shot midway through the second half. Arroyo added an insurance goal off a corner kick with a little more than 15 minutes remaining. Arroyo's second goal twirled left and trickled right under the foot of Hernandez for the final tally.
JT (18-4-2) meets the winner of tonight's area matchup between Whitehouse and Mount Pleasant, also slated for Longview, at Lobo Stadium.
JT dominated possession, in the second half in particular where the Lions outshot the Tigers 9-2. Overall, JT outshot Texas High 20-9, with a 9-5 shots on goal advantage.
"We're an enigma right now," said JT coach Howard Story, whose team has lost only once in its last 18 contests. "In the second half they went out and put on a show."
The Lions played on the grass surface Monday across from Lobo Stadium, and needed only 15 minutes to find their footing on Arroyo's head shot to start the scoring for JT in the 15th minute. Greg Vargas assisted on the shot.
JT doubled its lead in the 20th minute when Barrera worked his feet to get a ball through for a 2-0 advantage for his team-leading 13th goal.
Just like it did in a 4-3 bi-district triumph over Hallsville, JT allowed a 2-0 cushion to evaporate before posting the last two goals.
Texas High (14-12) hit JT for two goals in a four-minute span. Trevor Stanfill set up Gustavo Cruz Lopez for Texas High's first goal thanks to a high pass. A free kick moments later led to the game-tying goal, coming from Tony Moya with just 50 seconds left before the intermission.
Hernandez earned his stripes, getting promoted to captain midway through after stepping up his performance, and leadership role. Hernandez recorded the final two goals of JT's victory over Hallsville last Friday.
"I told him I can't overlook this any longer," Story said of Hernandez, who led the Lions in goals last year and upped his season-total to 12 on Monday. "I just told them (at halftime) 'I don't know what to tell you.' I could hear (Jose Hernandez') voice stepping in there talking."
After getting two days of rest, JT gets a full four days in between the second and third rounds. JT and Whitehouse tentatively agreed to play Friday at Tyler Junior College assuming the Wildcats defeat the District 29-4A champions tonight. JT won both regular season meetings with Whitehouse, including a 1-0 win in the first meeting, which ended a stretch of five consecutive shutouts by the Lions.
JT allowed only six goals in 12 district contests before giving up the same amount in three matches since, including a 4-1 victory over Jacksonville in a warm-up match.
Daniel Montoya made five saves, helping JT shutout Texas High the final 40 minutes.
"I'm just not liking these goals we're giving up," Story said. "We're failing to clear the ball and being careless. You can't keep turning it on and off. One of these times it's going to be too late. As we get deeper in the playoffs I don't want to see if we can come back. We need to control the game. As you could see in the second half, we're capable of controlling the game."