The advantage of enrolling in tournaments early in the high school soccer season is to get a lot of good work in against (hopefully) good competition, and to help coaches set their line-ups for district play.
The disadvantage: you give up pretty much everything for a few days to do so.
Both Kilgore High School soccer teams were entered in tournaments in the Longview area this weekend, the first week of the season, and both have had success. And the tournaments will continue this coming week.
Kilgore’s boys, fresh off winning the UIL Class 4A state championship last year, have new, and old, leadership at the top. Tom Wait, who coached the program in the early 1990s and whose most recent stop was Hallsville, returns to lead a proud Bulldogs program that has made the state tournament the last three seasons, and has pretty much owned its district championship for a decade.
Wait and his Bulldogs got off to a 2-0 start to the season, competing in the Bobcat Classic tournament in Hallsville (that he ironically planned before leaving the Bobcats program for Kilgore). The Bulldogs defeated Texas High on Thursday, 2-1, then beat Chapel Hill on Friday by the same score.
They tied with Center on Saturday, and won on penalty kicks, before losing to Palestine in a hard-fought tournament championship game.
“So far, so good,” Wait told the News Herald. “Trying to build some team chemistry.”
Against Texas High, Kilgore never trailed. Gregorio Alvarez scored for the Bulldogs, then Luis Martinez, both unassisted, in the first seven minutes.
Kilgore did trail, 1-0, to Chapel Hill on Friday at halftime, but scored twice in the second half, both by Brandyn Hinojos. Hinojos headed one of those goals on a corner from Jovany Gonzalez.
After the Hallsville tournament this weekend, the Bulldogs will play in the annual Longview tournament, as they have several years running. There, they’ll see a familiar face: another former KHS coach, Kris Duplissey, who coached the Bulldogs for a few seasons, beginning in 2005. Duplissey now coaches Forney, whom the Bulldogs will play on Thursday at noon in the first round of the Longview tournament.
“You want some additional irony?,” Wait laughed. “I coached Kris at Pine Tree.”
The Longview tournament will continue through next Saturday, and then Kilgore will visit Tyler Lee on Jan. 16 before competing in yet another tournament, in Terrell, on Jan. 18-19. The Bulldogs won’t play a home game until a Jan. 26 date against Lindale. District 16-4A play starts Jan. 30 at home against Spring Hill.
As for the Kilgore Lady Bulldogs, coach Heidi Hagan’s team opened the season this weekend in a tournament at Spring Hill. The KHS girls beat Bullard, 3-0, and then Nacogdoches, 2-0, and lost to Longview, 1-0. Kilgore finished the tournament with a 2-1 win over Pleasant Grove.
Kilgore’s girls will be off until Thursday, when they go to Forney for another tournament.
The Lady ‘Dogs aren’t home until that date against Spring Hill on Jan. 30, the district opener.