The Carthage boys soccer team got the season off to a strong start last week, tying a perennial East Texas power before taking third place in a weekend tournament.

For the week the Bulldogs played Pine Tree to a 0-0 tie and then played in Pittsburg’s Mayben Elite Realty Tournament falling to Texas High 3-1, before beating Gladewater 6-0 and Mineola 3-0. They picked up a forfeit win over Mineola in the third-place game as the Yellowjackets opted out of playing.

Carthage is now 3-1-1 for the season and will travel to Alvarado for the Kurt McGrath Memorial Invitational. The Dawgs play two games on Friday (San Angelo Lake View and Alvarado) and one on Saturday (Lorena).

On the first night of the tournament on Thursday, the Dawgs fell to Texas High 3-1.

Pedro Garcia scored the lone goal for the Dawgs on a penalty kick, while Jacob Whatley had five saves.

On Friday, the Dawgs returned to Pittsburg and fared much better with Jose Hernandez shining,

He had four of the six goals in the 6-0 win over Gladewater as he transitioned from outside back to forward. He also accounted for an assist.

Pedro Garcia also had a goal and an assist and Whitton Malone picked up a goal. Alan Barcenas and Jonathan Medrano both had two assists as well., while Whatley, Omar Medrano both had three saves and Walker Flori had two saves.

The final game on Friday was a 3-0 win over Mineola and the Dawgs were led in scoring by Barcenas, who scored twice, followed by Jose Hernandez scoring another. Garcia was critical with all three assists. Whatley had five saves.

Even though the opener against Pine Tree was a tie, Carthage Coach James Watson was thrilled with the effort.

“The Pine Tree game was huge for us because we were able to play a high-caliber opponent early and get a litmus test for us to open the season,” he said. “We played very well defensively, but didn’t create enough scoring opportunities. Jacob Whatley is just a sophomore, but has shown how special of a player he is multiple times since starting in goal as a freshman last year.

“He showed it again against Pine Tree. Coach Rocha has multiple players that can shoot from far out with deadly accuracy and Jacob shined bright with his fight in goal. He got saves against every kind of shot and from every angle you can think of.”

Watson wasn’t thrilled with his team’s play on the tournament opener but he liked the way they responded when he challenged them.

“We didn’t play very well against Texas High and let them get up early on us after a couple of costly miscues in the first half,” Watson said. “I challenged our team to respond on the second day of the tournament and they did just that.

“We moved some pieces of the puzzle around, and found a way to generate an attack and pass the ball efficiently and effectively. Our overall team speed is our biggest advantage, so when we combine that with patient passing and building up possessions, we can give people some problems. Our defense played really well also and snuffed out the handful of attacks Gladewater generated. The Mineola game was a beautiful sight. Great possession soccer with our kids communicating, executing and putting everything together.”

The JV Dawgs opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Pine Tree, but had a chance to bounce back Tuesday when they took on Tenaha’s varsity.

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