Mineral Wells goalkeeper Miguel Hidalgo blocked three penalty kicks and four Rams booted home goals for a 4-2 shootout win to open District 6-4A on a high note following a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation play Friday night at Ram Stadium.
The Rams almost didn’t get to overtime as Stephenville made an active play with less than 45 seconds remaining, but Mineral Wells cleared the ball and set up a heart-pounding penalty kick situation.
Mineral Wells got the first kick opportunity, and Jared Valle put immediate pressure on the Yellow Jackets by coolly scoring his shot to make it 1-0.
Hidalgo guessed wrong and over-committed himself on Stephenville's first kick and went the opposite direction, but it was the only mistake he would make as he blocked the next three shots.
Micah Gray gave his goalkeeper some breathing room as he sent home Mineral Wells’ second kick, and the Rams rolled with Jose Martinez and Diego Andrada popping in both of their shots.
With a district win on the line, choosing five players to bring home the victory is a task Coach Rolando Borjon works on regularly.
“We work on taking penalty kicks a couple of times a week,” Borjon said. “Then you have those guys who stay after practice or gather together at different times and work on taking penalty kicks. It’s much like basketball players shooting extra hoops. Those guys get better at what they do and, at the same time, make their goalkeeper stronger.”
The Rams proved themselves to be stronger as an entire team by rallying when they trailed 1-0 with 23:23 remaining in regulation. Mineral Wells began it’s a rally with Christian Narvaez driving home a header-goal to tie the contest.
A tackling foul by the Yellow Jackets four yards in front of the Stephenville goal set Diego Andrada up for a penalty kick, and he sliced the ball past the Yellow Jacket goalkeeper to give Mineral Wells a 2-1 advantage.
The Rams were hit with a penalty at the 13:22 mark and tied the game setting up the shootout fireworks.
Mineral Wells improves to 9-5-4 on the year and, most importantly, 1-0 in district play. The Rams travel to Brownwood Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game.