GCM Patriots reach Semi-finals for the first time; fall short 3-0

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

Riding a 20-game unbeaten streak, the Goose Creek Memorial Patriots’ (21-4-2) season of firsts ended abruptly last Thursday with a 3-0 loss to Midlothian (25-2-3) in the state soccer semifinals.

“It just wasn’t our day,” said a dejected Coach William Freeman.

It was the furthest the soccer program had ever achieved in his 11 years at the helm of the program and Freeman is only the second coach in the history of the Patriots.

“The score is a bit deceiving,” Freeman said. “We had our chances to score early on.”

Senior mid-fielder Carlos Gonzalez had one go off the post.

“He usually puts that one in the net,” the coach said.

They also had a couple of uncontested headers right in front of the goal that they missed.

“We could have easily been (leading) 3-0,” he said.

Tied at 0 at the half, the Patriots came back out dictating the game again.

“We had an open header right in front of the goal, and it goes right over the top,” he said disappointed.

The Panthers had a chip/cross into the back post.

“The guy was literally forgotten about and headed it in from a couple of yards,” coach said.

Down 1-0, with 20 minutes still left to play, Freeman said they were a little bit stretched but weren’t in panic mode yet since they only needed to get one back.

“They had a lefty cut inside and it’s one that Max typically saves and he didn’t save that one,” he said. Goose Creek Memorial was down 2-0 with time running down.

The Patriots were feeling the pressure when Senior midfielder Ramon Diaz got in behind the Midlothian defenders with a little bit of an angle outside the post, ball on his feet and with plenty of time.

“Usually, it’s one that he buries, and he sends it wide,” the coach said.

Being down 2-0, the Patriots still felt like they had them on their heels with a lot of pressure and plenty of chances to score.

“We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net,” he said.

The Panthers scored a late goal with a couple of minutes remaining in the game.

“We were stretched and pushing everything forward, and they got one on us,” Freeman said.

Despite spending most of the second half on the Panthers end of the pitch, GCM couldn’t make it work.

“We did dictate possession, but possession doesn’t win you soccer games,” he remised.

While the Patriots fortunes fell short of a state title challenge, Freeman had nothing but praise for his team.

“(Following the game) we didn’t really talk about tactics or the reason why we lost the game other than just kind of bringing them in and just reflecting on the season, the big moments, and the community itself. I’m just extremely proud of them, and we got to take something away from it,” the coach said.

Finishing 12-0-2 and first in district, with ties against Port Neches-Groves (1-1) and Crosby (2-2), the program continues to build on success.

“This was our third trip to the regional tournament. We lost in the finals in 2016 and in the semi-finals in 2019. This is the first time we were good enough to win the region and go on to the state semi-finals,” Freeman said.

Now he said he will focus on the growth for the returning players to build that hunger to get back there again.

“Not only to have that desire, but a desire to work to get back there and figuring out ways and what we need to do as a program to continue that success,” Freeman described it.

GCM graduates five extremely good, experienced, high leadership quality, good personality players, Freeman described them.

“We’re not losing a lot of numbers, but a lot of character and ability,” he said.

Carlos Gonzalez, Ramon Diaz, and Oliver Reyes are four-year starters. Juan Martinez moved in his freshman year and became a starter. Jayson Contreras played JV his freshman year and got moved up to varsity his sophomore year.

Returning to the playoffs next year could be a little more difficult as the Patriots move into the 6A division of play. The Patriots lost to 6A foe Humble 4-3, and the Wildcats advanced to the Regional Semi-finals this year. Freeman feels confident with the change.

(All Photo Credits to Callen Tittel)