CARROLLTON — That old Kilgore playoff magic is alive and well.
The Bulldogs got a game-tying goal from Ramse Mojica in the 79th minute, and then won a shootout that went to the eighth shooter for a 2-1 victory over Dallas Thomas Jefferson in a Class 4A Region II boys soccer semifinal Friday evening at Standridge Stadium.
Kilgore (20-2-4) will take on Mount Pleasant in the regional final at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers defeated Carrollton R.L. Turner, 1-0, in the other semifinal Friday. The winner advances to next week’s state tournament in Georgetown.
“They¹re just resilient,” Kilgore head coach Aaron Erickson said of his team. “People call it luck, but they do it all of the time. You can’t coach it. That ain’t me — that’s them. They never quit.”
In the shootout, Kilgore’s Josh Thompson was unable to convert the first shot. From there, the teams combined for eight straight makes, giving Thomas Jefferson’s Ramadhani Mwenda a chance to win the game in the fifth round.
However, Bulldogs goalkeeper Randall Johnson, who was filling in for injured starter Juan Perales, stuffed Mwenda’s shot to put the shootout into sudden death.
“We’ve known he’s been good,” Erickson said of Johnson.
“He just really hasn’t gotten his chance because JP is so good. I had a feeling going into this game he was going to be fine. He stepped up. I hope he does it again for three more games.”
After the teams traded two misses each, Kilgore’s Jose Rico beat Patriots keeper Carlos Martinez, who came in specifically for the shootout. Johnson then stymied Thomas Jefferson’s next shooter, Lorenzo Villanueva, for the win.
“I take my hat off to them for not quitting and finishing the game,” Patriots head coach Tomas Sanchez said of Kilgore. “We’ll try it again next year. It was tough to come back (from the late goal).”
The Patriots (19-5-3) got the first goal of the game when Jefrey Saravia knocked home his 43rd goal of the season on a helper from Alex Barusta in the 28th minute.
Kilgore, which lost in last year’s Class 4A state championship game, is playing in its third straight regional final. The Bulldogs are also without leading scorer Jose Barron, who is injured.