PFLUGERVILLE — It’s too early to give College Station’s men’s soccer team a “Cinderella” title, but the Cougars’ run through the Class 5A playoffs has been nothing short of thrilling.
College Station (12-7-3) added to its resume on Tuesday after earning the program’s first sector win. Jonathan Corado’s corner kick found Zach Dang, who used his header to score the winning goal with less than two minutes left in the game.
The late score broke a long-standing tie and gave the Cougars a 1-0 victory over Pflugerville (14-8-2) at Kuempel Stadium, earning them a spot in the regional quarterfinals where they will face Northeast Early College later this week. The Raiders beat 19-5A champion Katy Paetow 1-0 on Tuesday.
“We knew it would break eventually and it broke for us,” Cougar head coach Chad Peevey said.
With all the signs pointing to overtime, the College Station offense turned in its best performance of the night.
Corado led the effort and had two on-go attempts that fell just short of the goal. The junior then took two corner kicks which gave the Cougars a chance to score, but were knocked down by the scrappy Pflugerville defenders. But the third time was Corado’s charm from the corner and Dang’s header sent the Cougar crowd into an uproar.
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“It was relieving,” Corado said. “We were working so hard and I felt like it was our last chance. I don’t think I could have continued because I was tired.”
Peevey said it was a testament to their off-season work.
“Last year we didn’t score a single goal from the corner,” he said, “and we got into it and it paid off. We scored four or five goals this year from the corners. corners thanks to the hard work we put into it.”
College Station was forced to play from distance for most of the game, which became a challenge as both teams battled 17mph winds. The Cougars defense was diligent, stopping 12 shot attempts and four shots on goal in the first half.
Pflugerville made good runs towards goal, but the ball often fell too far left or right of the net. When the ball made its way into the penalty area, College Station’s Ulisses Braga was ready to make a save.
“Every time they started pushing towards our box,” Peevey said, “we were able to press the ball down and win it and get it out pretty quickly. So [we] give them possession but don’t give them many chances. Sometimes that’s the key to our game.”
This isn’t the first time College Station has escaped with a late game victory.
The Cougars, who finished as the fourth seed in the 19-5A district, beat 20-5A champion New Caney Porter 2-1 in the bi-district round last week with a similar photo finish.
Tied at 1, Porter was shown a red card late in the second period and the Cougars scored from the penalty spot for their first playoff win since the 2014-15 season. Pflugerville finished second in 18-5A behind co-champions Pflugerville Connally and Hendrickson.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Peevey said. “It started the second district round. We kind of re-evaluated things. … [It’s been] the coaches trust the players and the players trust the coaches and it really shows.”