CORSICANA – If there is one thing you notice about the Athens Hornets, it is they play as a family and wear their emotions on their sleeves.
The Hornets left Community National Bank and Trust Stadium with a 5-2 Class 4A, Region 2 area round championship victory over the Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy Eagles Monday.
The win improves the Hornets record to 16-4-2 as they advance to the regional quarterfinals.
Athens faces the Celina Bobcats contest in the Class 4A, Region 2 quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m. at Mesquite's E.H. Hanby Stadium. Celina defeated the North Dallas Bulldogs, 3-0, in their area round contest Tuesday.
“We are going to have to really pull everything we got out of them,” Rich said. “Knowing that we lost Kevin Sanchez for next round it is going to require 130-percent in this next round.”
Sanchez was lost to a red card late in the second half of the contest, which requires him to sit out the following contest.
The Hornets picked up the early 1-0 lead with 15:45 remaining in the first half as Oak Cliff Faith Family had an own goal go against them past goalie David Sanchez.
Rich said for the second straight game of having an own goal by the opposing team felt a little rough for the Hornets.
“It was good to own our own goal and it was good to go up 1-0, but it felt a little sour knowing they gave it to us,” Rich said. “To go out and own four more was icing on the cake. It reaffirmed that we are here for a reason, and it wasn’t just a fluke.”
The Eagles (9-7) tied the game as Angel Contreras blasted a shot to the right post past Athens goalie Yahir Carrillo with 2:08 remaining.
“It was about getting our heads straight,” Rich said of the halftime chat. “We came in kind of like the last game being timid. I guess they were feeling out the other team, and once they got a feel for them we made some adjustments at halftime. They came out hard and firing and they play together.”
In the second half, Athens opened things up and just two and a half minutes into the half, Ty Arroyo found Kevin Sanchez for the 2-1 lead.
Jesus Hernandez would then add a penalty kick goal with 24:57 as Oak Cliff Faith Family had a hand ball in the far corner of the box.
The last two goals came from Zsaid Inestroza with 16:38 remaining for the 4-1 lead. Arroyo then added the fifth goal on a blast with 14:52 remaining for the 5-1 lead.
“He (Zsaid) is definitely a silent assassin,” Rich said. “He is not the loudest kid, but when he is out there he makes his presence felt for sure.”
Oak Cliff Faith Family added one more goal with 2:24 remaining for the 5-2 final.
“The kids came in more confident and had a better feeling for themselves,” Rich said. “It was really a mentality thing this week.”