2017 in Review: Bulls take Bridgeport on wild ride to soccer final

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, December 27, 2017
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Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In their second season, the Bridgeport Bulls soccer team captured the imagination of a community in a run to the state final.

After a slow start with three draws to begin District 3-4A play, the Bulls then won five straight matches and clinched a second district title with a 2-2 draw against Decatur as Juan Amador sneaked the equalizer inside the lower left post.

Bridgeport started a memorable playoff run with a 5-1 win over Brownwood that included five goals within 14 minutes in the second half. The Bulls then blasted Borger 7-3 and beat 3-4A rival Burkburnett 3-0 to reach the 4A Region I tournament.

Against Dallas Life Oak Cliff, Amador scored a pair of goals in the first half to give the Bulls the lead. In the second half, he played keeper to help the Bulls win 4-3 and earn a trip to the region final.

Taking on 2015 state champion San Elizario in the region final for a state berth, standout defender Eric Aguilar made a spectacular sliding clear of the ball on an open goal to protect a Bridgeport lead. Jesus Aguilar delivered the game-winning goal to send the Bulls to Georgetown.

A crowd of loud fans that followed the Bulls the entire season kept growing through the playoffs. A vocal student section led by student Bryce Powers welcomed the Bulls to the field, singing “When the Bulls go charging in; Oh when the Bulls go charging in; How I’d love to be in the stampede when the Bulls go charging in.”

Powers and Chase Williams came up the song, along with another chant from the maroon-clad crowd, “Vamos toros!” Many in the crowd in Georgetown wore shirts with the phrase.

Miguel Olmos and Amador booted in goals in the second half to beat Progreso 2-0 in the state semifinal.

On a sun-splashed Friday afternoon in the state final, the Bulls fell behind 2-0 just 12 minutes into the game. But the resilient Bulls fought back to tie the game at 2 and kept Kilgore at bay the rest of regulation and two overtime periods. After 100 minutes in the searing sun, the title match went to a shootout.

Junior defender Eric Aguilar, who made a game-saving clear at the line in the second overtime period and saved the Bulls’ season twice at the region tournament, took over in goal for the Bulls. Aguilar got his hands on the ball on the first attempt before it trickled past him.

After the game’s MVP Kaleb Jett made a pair of stops, Raul Cedillo found the net for the fourth goal of the shootout, and Kilgore captured the 4A crown, 3-2 (4-2 on penalty kicks).

“We battled back, and we gave every last drop and every last ounce of our energy and fight,” said Bridgeport coach Ben Parks. “We love sports because sometimes the other team can win even when you do everything you can. Not to necessarily say they were better than us. That’s just how the game goes. Credit to them. Kilgore is a heck of a team, and they fully deserve the title they have.”

The Bulls’ magical run in just the program’s second season ended at 19-3-5 with the team accepting the runner-up trophy.

“It’s amazing in the second year we’re here,” said Bridgeport junior midfielder Miguel Olmos. “This whole year, no matter what happened, we kept our heads up and kept moving forward.

“It’s an amazing year, and I can’t wait for next year,” he said. “We’ll be back next year.”

As Bridgeport players walked off the field, fans yelled to them to hold their heads high as they accepted the silver medals. Parks acknowledged the fans and echoed their sentiments.

“The tears are OK, but I told them, ‘Don’t hold your head down. You’re Bulls and that means something in the soccer world now because of you,'” Parks said.

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