Down a goal at intermission, and clearly frustrated in the second half, Arlington Sam Houston dug deep to rally for a 2-1 victory against Pasadena Dobie in a UIL Class 6A boys soccer semifinal Friday at Birkelbach Field.
Sophomore forward Nate Kopetsky scored the game-winner in the 78th minute when he took a pass from Luis Vargas and slipped a 10-yard shot between two defenders and the keeper.
The Texans (22-2-2) meet Dallas Jesuit (21-3-1) in the final at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
This Sam Houston squad is the first Texans team to reach a UIL championship game.
Sam Houston, which opened in 1963, had football state semifinalists in 1973 and 1990, volleyball in 1991, girls basketball in 1995, and the 2015 boys soccer team.
“As a coach you always want to play for that last game,” coach Joey Rodriguez said. “I’m more excited for our student population, I’m more excited for our teachers. It’s an honor to be able to do this for them.”
The opportunity was far from certain for the first half. The Longhorns (20-3-4) had a 9-4 lead in shots and 5-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Sam Houston’s aggravation led to a Dobie penalty kick in the 32nd minute, and Edwin Saldivar converted the chance for a 1-0 lead. The Texans also had two early second-half shots that hit a post or crossbar.
“At halftime we told them to relax, the chances are going to come,” Rodriguez said.
Sam Houston forward Sergio Martinez – who had a shot that hit a crossbar and another denied from point-blank range – tied the game in the 56th minute on a penalty kick.
“I had two opportunities on the same play,” he said. “We won, that’s the important thing.”
Kopetsky expects no letdown for the final.
“We’ve always been fighting this whole season,” he said. “We’ve just got one more fight. I know we can do it.”