CARROLLTON, Texas -- Carrollton R. L. Turner advanced past the sectional round of the Class 4A boys state playoffs for the first time after knocking off defending state champion and ESPN Rise FAB No. 5 Frisco Wakeland on Thursday, 2-1.
Wakeland was hindered by injuries, including a leg injury to star forward Len Smith. Coach Rusty Oglesby said Smith was not near full speed for the entire game because the injury should have kept him out of the game. His team's slowed pace, combined with near-perfect play from a speedy Turner defense, held the defending state champs to a limited amount of scoring chances, which came late in the game.
Turner capitalized on Wakeland’s inability to create an offensive run by keeping Wakeland’s opportunities off the restart to a minimum.
“On set pieces they’re deadly,” Turner coach Marshall Huston said. “We were trying to not give them any set pieces. We talked about that before the game -- don’t foul them, just stay on your feet, stay goal-side and don’t let them have shots and we can beat them.”
Turner played brilliantly in the first half, scoring what would be the game winner on a highlight reel bicycle kick goal by Luiz Martinez. A throw-in by Turner’s Jacob Vancompernolle made it all the way to the Wakeland keeper, who could not handle the touch and left the ball floating in the air just beside Martinez. The Lions junior midfielder flipped his body in the air and struck the ball into an empty right side of the goal, electrifying his team and the packed lower level of stands at Carrollton’s Standbridge Stadium.
“I didn’t think about it. I was just in the moment and I scored it,” Martinez said.
Turner opened the scoring just three minutes into the game when forward Isai Mireles controlled a bouncing ball through two Wakeland defenders and ripped a shot that found the back right corner of goal from around 15 yards out.
Wakeland’s only goal deflected off a Turner defender and found the top of the net off a Wolverines free kick from 30 yards out by Mitchell Francois.
Both teams used halftime to find some pace to a high-energy, frantic first half resulting in a scoreless second half. Wakeland was able to put together a few runs late, but Turner’s defense had bodies flying and sliding in front of every Wakeland shot.
“The second half, Rusty made some good adjustments and put pressure on us,” Huston said. “First half I thought we were dominant. The second half we couldn’t do it any more because I think they started pressing us more, but we were able to keep them out of the net so it worked.”
Both teams have seen each other many times in past years, being former district rivals. Oglesby said he saw dramatic improvement in Turner’s defensive play this season and this game.
“Defensively, without a doubt, that team’s improved over the last three years. That center back and that goalkeeper just did a fantastic job all night keeping us at bay and we just threw all we had at them.”
While rivalry was a major factor in the tenacity and physicality of the players on the field, both teams finished the evening gracious to each other for the effort each demonstrated.
“They are a class act,” Huston said. “They lose with class and win with class.
“If I’m going to have to lose a game and not make it back to Austin then, by God, I want it to be to that team,” Oglesby said. “They’ve earned the right to be there.”
Turner advances to the regional quarterfinal of the 4A playoffs to face the winner of Dallas Bryan Adams and Rockwall-Heath.