KPARK cruises to State

Panther boys soccer team reach state semifinal game for the third time in school history.

Senior+Jesus+Cervantes+motions+to+the+crowd+after+scoring+one+of+his+two+goals+of+the+night.+Nathan+Jimerson%2C+Gage+Guerra+and+Cervantes+each+had+two+goals+against+Hendrickson.+%22Jesus+%28Cervantes%29+and+Gage+%28Guerra%29+are+the+leaders+of+the+pack+right+now+and+everyone%27s+following+them%2C%22+coach+Ryan+Searle+said.+

Kathleen Ortiz

Senior Jesus Cervantes motions to the crowd after scoring one of his two goals of the night. Nathan Jimerson, Gage Guerra and Cervantes each had two goals against Hendrickson. “Jesus (Cervantes) and Gage (Guerra) are the leaders of the pack right now and everyone’s following them,” coach Ryan Searle said.

Kathleen Ortiz, Editor-in-Chief

Jesus Cervantes pumped his fists in the air as he ran toward Nathan Jimerson and wrapped him into a tight embrace. Jimerson had just scored two goals in a 10-minute span to put the boys soccer team comfortably ahead in the Region III final.

About 15 minutes later, as his teammates celebrated their victory, Cervantes held his hands up to replicate exactly how he would hold the Region III title trophy.

He continually asked his teammates where it was. No trophy made it down to the field, but they didn’t need a trophy to know they had secured a ticket to the state tournament.

With a 6-2 victory over the Pflugerville Hendrickson Hawks, the boys reached the state tournament for the third time in program history and the first time in a decade. They were state semifinalists in 2011 and state runner-ups in 2010.

“They’re writing history right now,” coach Ryan Searle said. “This is their moment. I know they’re ready to keep going.”

The team clinched the region title at the same field where they beat Pflugerville Weiss 6-0 two rounds prior.

Nine minutes and three goals into the first half, the Panthers trailed for the first time in the playoffs. The 2-1 deficit lasted only about six minutes. They evened the score at 2 with a goal by West Point soccer commit and senior Gage Guerra. The Panthers then went ahead for good less than a minute before halftime when Guerra headed in a ball, giving the Panthers a 3-2 lead. 

“The momentum changed to us, and that was it,” Searle said.

The team held Hendrickson scoreless in the second half as they added three more goals by Cervantes and Jimerson.

After each of Cervantes’ goals, he motioned to the stands filled with classmates, former teammates and the team’s families and friends. Posters with their names lined the railing. Fans also held homemade noise makers and cowbells.

“It was so exciting to see so many of my classmates and former teammates in the crowd,” Cervantes said. “It really helped us out hearing them cheer us on. We couldn’t have done it without all their support.”

Two years ago the team lost 4-3 to Sharpstown in the region final. The veterans on the team this year haven’t forgotten that loss at Turner Stadium.

“I remember being disappointed because it was many of the seniors’ last games, and that’s not a fun way to go out,” Jimerson said.

In a preseason game last school year the team beat Sharpstown 2-0, and had high hopes for the playoffs before their season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, despite the pandemic they’ve built a state-bound team.

“We work so well as a team,” Cervantes said. “We definitely deserve everything we have accomplished so far, but the job isn’t done yet.”