The Conroe Tigers were trailing with about 90 seconds to go Saturday afternoon against Houston Sharpstown.
With the Apollos a man down after a red card with 13 minutes left in the game, Conroe finally took advantage with a goal by the day’s hero Carlos Salinas to tie it up. Senior defender Bryan Cruz then scored with about 30 seconds left to give Conroe the eventual 4-3 victory to conclude the Kilt Cup at Buddy Moorhead Stadium.
The game was scoreless at halftime as the Tigers and Apollos went goal-for-goal in the second half.
“Our team has the potential to turn it on,” Conroe coach Michael Pistor said. “But we need to figure out how to turn it on from the whistle. It took us awhile to get into the game and I think we really livened up after they put it in the net. The potential is there, we’ve just got to get the mental aspect down and be able to flip that switch from the first whistle.”
Salinas concluded the tournament with a hat trick for Conroe (2-0-1) and assisted on Cruz’s game-winner. The junior had a solid all-around tournament, contributing goals in each game. Conroe topped Magnolia West on Thursday and tied Westfield 2-2 on Friday.
“I keep track every year of the players I’ve had and how many goals they’ve scored from each position,” Pistor explained. “Last year, (Salinas) set the mark as a sophomore for the most goals by a left mid with five. Today, he scored his sixth goal of the season, so he’s already the highest scoring winger I’ve had in the last decade of doing this.”
Conroe had a couple scoring chances in the first half, but came up empty.
In the 20th minute, David De La Paz had a header go off the crossbar off a corner kick.
Just three minutes later, Salinas put a solid left foot on the ball but Apollo goalkeeper Joalmo Cabezas made the save.
Oscar Cruz had a free kick from 30 yards out with 18 minutes left before halftime that was also saved by Cabezas.
Pistor drew from an offensive outburst two days earlier that carried the Tigers to their first win.
“I just reminded them that Thursday we had played a great game, scored five goals and gave up zero against a really good team in Mag West,” Pistor said of what the team talked about at halftime. “All five goals came from five different players. I said that anybody could be that guy right now...go out and make the difference. Don’t wait for somebody else to go do it.”
Sharpstown (2-2) came in off a 7-0 defeat to The Woodlands on Friday and that came 24 hours after beating Grand Oaks to begin the tournament.
“There was a lot more fight (today),” Sharpstown coach Gregory Boles said. “I think yesterday’s game, we showed where we could be with the physical. Hats off to The Woodlands, they have a great team.”
Conroe took a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute on Salinas’ first goal which came off a free kick by Duilio Coria.
The Apollos tied it six minutes later as Methouser Ntizaduhana scored on a breakaway to make it 1-1.
Sharpstown then made it 2-1 a minute later as Jostin Garcia Lagos converted a penalty kick.
Salinas tied the game up for Conroe in the 56th minute with a penalty kick after teammate Julian Vega was taken down in the box.
The tie stood for just four minutes when Sharpstown re-gained the lead when Pablo Castrillo Martinez scored with a shot inside the box.
The score remained 3-2 for the next 19 minutes until Conroe tied it and won it.
“Today, we played a little more differently,” Boles said. “We played more defensive and we’re able to take care of our opportunities. In the end, it’s Conroe’s home field and they had them crowd behind them and they just imposed their will on us.”
Conroe returns to action Thursday for the three-day Humble ISD Tournament. The Tigers face Katy Morton Ranch 6:30 p.m. at Summer Creek High School.