By BRAD KEITH
Photos by JESSIE HORTON
WICHITA FALLS (April 1, 2016) — For the first time in more than a month and just the second time this season, Stephenville found itself playing from behind in a boys soccer match Friday.
But the area champion Yellow Jackets shrugged off the early deficit, riding two goals by Aaron Veloz to a 3-1 victory over Borger to remain undefeated and advance to the Region I-4A quarterfinals.
The true test lies ahead Tuesday, when the Yellow Jackets will likely face Bridgeport. The only matches Stephenville hasn’t won this season were a pair of draws three days apart against Bridgeport, which must defeat Pampa Friday night to fully set the stage.
If Stephenville and Bridgeport do meet, the match will be Tuesday at Ram Stadium in Mineral Wells. A start time has not been determined.
Matthew Chapman broke through for the equalizer for Stephenville just moments after Bridgeport took the lead. Then a pair of Aarons took over for the Yellow Jackets, with Aaron Burrows assisting on both goals by Veloz.
Burrows sailed a high pass over the defense and Veloz leaped for a perfectly placed chipped header that bounced into the net for a 2-1 lead just before intermission. The tandem struck again with Burrows setting up Veloz and the junior striker driving one home from just in front of the box in the second half.
Before his final goal, Veloz had to check out. He was yellow carded for pushing a Borger defender from behind. But all it proved to be was a quick breather, and a recharged Veloz finished the scoring moments after returning to the pitch.
The early Borger goal ended a streak of six straight shutouts by Stephenville and keeper Noble Alexander. He was left alone in the back and couldn’t stop an attacking Borger striker one-on-one immediately in front of goal.
But Alexander was on point the rest of the match, stopping with ease the few opportunities Borger was able to generate in the second half.
Stephenville didn’t score again, but continued to hammer away after the last goal by Veloz. The Yellow Jackets hit the cross bar twice, the left post once and time expired with Rocha sliding in and trapping the ball against the left post, mere inches and a second of clock time from a second goal for him and a fourth for SHS.
The Jackets have never been to a regional tournament, but that’s exactly where they will be with a win Tuesday.
The Flash Today photos by JESSIE HORTON