Lovejoy's playoff run ends with loss to Kilgore

CARROLLTON, Texas -- The Lucas Lovejoy’s bid at a trip to the state tournament was cut a game short by Kilgore 1-0 in the regional finals of the 4A boys soccer playoffs Saturday at Standridge Stadium.

A game that seemed destined Lovejoy's favor turned quickly after East Texas player of the year Jose Barron set in the game's only score with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Barron dribbled through Lovejoy defenders and sent in a rolling shot to the backside of the net. Lovejoy defender Mick Ellis gave his best effort to save the goal from behind but deflected the shot -- which would would have gone in regardless -- into the middle of the net.

“We get lucky that way and sometimes we’re unlucky,” Lovejoy head coach Bryan Jennings said. “I don’t think that turned the game though, we had our chances.”

Lovejoy had chances in the second half with a stiff wind at its back. A point-blank shot by junior forward Eddie Puskarich was saved by Kilgore keeper J.D. Perales. Puskarich had escaped on a breakaway on a through ball by Trenton Easley but couldn't beat a diving Perales.

The rest of the half was a struggle for Lovejoy to control deep balls that went farther than expected because of the wind. Jennings said playing into the wind actually suited his team’s game plan better.

“Any time the wind is going at your back, the ball is going to escape you a little more," he said. "It’s almost preferred that you get either no wind or a little wind against you. When you’re fighting the wind the whole first half and go into the second half and there’s a little bit of a time crunch and there’s all the pressure – I don’t know if it’s more our skill suffered a little bit as much as an adjustment to the wind.”

Jennings said the success of other sports programs at Lovejoy has pushed them to achieve success for such a young program, just finishing it’s fourth year.

“With a program as young as ours, I think it’s important that the players feel that confidence the community has that they can do it, but at the same time knowing that someone else may one-up you keeps you humbled.”