It took more than regulation and overtime to produce a winner, but the West Texas Rumbleweeds began their first season in existence on the right note, winning 2-1 in a shootout against the Lubbock Renegades in Arena Pro Soccer League action Saturday night at Ector County Coliseum.
Junior Hernandez’s goal with 11 seconds remaining in regulation saved the Rumbleweeds from defeat, tying the game up at 6-6 and forcing overtime. In the extra period, Lubbock jumped in front on a goal by Jamal Yates before Robert Gonzalez answered back for West Texas to force a shootout.
After both teams struggled to convert in the shootout, Gonzalez scored for West Texas before Lubbock’s Yuriy Sadula equalized. David Freeland converted on his shot to give the Rumbleweeds their first win in history and sending the fans roaring.
“It’s difficult to describe,” West Texas head coach Danny Lopez said. “There are so many emotions going on right now. I’m very ecstatic. It’s a tremendous start to this season. It was more exciting than I would’ve preferred, but I hope the fans had a fun time. I’m sure that’ll draw people back.”
Lubbock’s Scott Smith nearly scored early for his team when his shot went wide right of the net.
A shot by Corey Hutchison was saved by West Texas goalkeeper Robert Santillan with 9:48 left in the first quarter.
Hernandez scored with 9:29 left in the first quarter to put West Texas in front, 1-0. But the Renegades responded with a pair of goals by Smith to put them ahead before the end of the quarter.
The teams continued to go back and forth, but Lubbock managed to take a 4-2 lead at the half.
The Rumbleweeds responded with a goal with 16:03 left in the third quarter when Hernandez made it 4-3.
In the fourth quarter, Hernandez scored again to tie up at 4-4.
Lubbock had an answer for each West Texas, goal but the Rumbleweeds didn’t go away throughout the remainder of regulation and overtime.
“Oh man, I hate shootouts but sometimes, it’s necessary to determine a winner and the format is a disadvantage to the attacker,” Lopez said. “But our goalie came up big and blocked several shots. Then we had David and Robert and come through to make their shots. It was huge for us. It was a big win.”