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Kilgore's boys' soccer team members receive symbol of championship success

By Jack Stallard
July 6, 2017 at 10:31 p.m.

Above: Brandon Espinoza shows off his 2017 soccer state championship ring during a ceremony Thursday in the Kilgore High School cafeteria. Left: Coach Austin Walker presents Elian Torres with his state championship ring. Below: Members of the Kilgore soccer team show off their state championship rings.

KILGORE — David Garcia is still limping and wears a walking cast thanks to a gruesome leg injury suffered in a state semifinal soccer match back in April.

On Thursday, Garcia also wore a shiny, new ring and a big smile.

Garcia, along with teammates, coaches and others affiliated with the Kilgore High School soccer team, picked up their state championship rings during a ceremony at the school's cafeteria.

The diamond-crusted ring with a bright, red "K" in the middle was worth the wait — and the pain — Garcia said.

"It's hard to describe, but it's a dream come true to finally get this ring," Garcia said. "It's something I've dreamed about since I was a kid."

Garcia was injured during the Bulldogs' 4-0 win over Houston Washington in the Class 4A state semifinal game. The next day, Kilgore defeated Bridgeport in the state championship match. The teams finished regulation play and two overtime periods tied at 2-2, and Kilgore won 4-2 on penalty kicks.

"It was totally worth it, and I'd do it all over again if I could," Garcia said. "It wasn't easy. To get so close two times and not win it …we just had to be patient and never give up. We finally got it."

Kilgore advanced to the state soccer tournament in 2015 and 2016, but broke through with the program's first state title in 2017.

The Bulldogs finished the season with a 23-5 record, defeating Mineola, Pleasant Grove and Palestine to advance to the regional tournament, and then knocking off A-Plus Academy and Ranchview to win the regional title and advance to the state tournament in Georgetown.

Head coach Austin Walker, who has moved on to become coach at Midlothian Heritage, said he is still adjusting to the magnitude of the championship season.

"It's really just now finally sinking in," he said. "I'm happy to see the guys again and to share this with them."

Joining Garcia on the championship team were Kaleb Jett, Yonatan Contreras, Jesus Gonzalez, Jovany Gonzalez, Noe Zavaleta, Raul Cedillo, Jaime Veloz, Elian Torres, Mateo Meraz, Brandon Espinoza, Daniel Sifford, Tucker Konczak, Jordi Contreras, Diego Huerta, Wanya McIntyre, Jose Gonzalez, Jose Arrendondo and Jackson Hatcher.

Coaches were Walker, Mark Roskos and LaTamera Fry. Manager was Carlos Godoy. Athletic trainer was Darrell "Red" Ganus. Student trainer was Brandon Mayers, and videographer was Josue Reyes.

(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports)

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