By Justin Kelm
Dayton, Texas, is known for its high school football program but another sport is quickly gaining support and attention from fans – soccer.
For Coach Jed Garner and his boys soccer program, the Broncos came into the game 8-5-2 on the season. Coach Garner has built the Broncos soccer program from the ground up. The Broncos were District 21-5A outright champions in 2020. The Broncos made the playoffs in both 2019 and 2020.
The journey to the playoffs began on Tuesday, Jan. 26, against Porter in the opening of district play. With COVID-19 rules in effect, a fairly decent crowd filled Bronco Stadium in support. The match started after the officials had some things to sort out with Porter. The players were on the field when one official notified a Spartans player that he had to change his uniform. This delayed the start and left everyone puzzled.
Broncos took possession at the start of the match. The Spartans and Broncos got physical throughout the first half. Very early on, the Spartans capitalized on a Broncos’ mistake and scored. The Broncos were at the wrong end of some very obvious missed calls during which one of the Broncos players was injured. This made the crowd, as well as the coaching staff, very upset. Player safety is something that is preached.
It seemed like the Broncos could not get a call in their favor all evening. Things did get chippy in the second half, as the refs issued yellow cards.
The Broncos attempted to counter the Spartans by playing at a very rapid speed on offense. The Broncos found chances to score.
A rather strange play unraveled when the Broncos broke free from the Spartan defenders and left them in a frantic state. The ball slowly made its way into the net, but somehow it was ruled a ‘no goal save’ by the Spartans’ goalie. In fairness, the referees had a better angle to see the play, but nonetheless, instead of being tied at 1, the score was still in favor of the Spartans.
Things did not improve throughout the match as some of the Broncos were physically shoved but nothing was called by the referees against the Spartans. Coach Garner emphasized that the Broncos just needed to keep pushing through it. He also demanded explanations for why the referees were not calling certain things. This showed to his team and the fans that he was not going to allow anymore players to get hurt. His assistant coaches continued to encourage the Broncos as the minutes passed.
As the match came down to the final minutes, the Spartans slipped by the Broncos goalie and sealed their victory. The crowd was left in shock as Porter secured the 2-0 victory. The loss brings the Broncos to 8-6-2 on the season and 0-1 in district play. The Broncos look to bounce back as they hit the road on Friday, Jan. 29, and travel to Lake Creek High School in Montgomery. The match is set for 7 p.m.