GEORGETOWN – The Volunteers will get their shot at redemption.
In Tuesday night’s UIL Class 6A State semifinal, the LEE boys soccer team defeated Jersey Village 2-0 at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown and punched their tickets to the program’s second straight state championship game.
The Volunteers broke the ice early in the first half. Junior Julian Sanchez delivered a beautiful long ball for Dante Valencia who chipped it over the Falcons’ goalkeeper and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. That was the only goal of the first half, but after a relatively calm first 40 minutes, LEE senior goalkeeper Joey Batrouni was much busier in the second half.
The Falcons appeared to break through with a close-range shot that slipped past Batrouni in the 56th minute of play, but junior Davis Kelly made a sliding save to keep the ball out of the goal. Moments later, Batrouni made a great sliding save on a Jersey Village free kick to keep the shutout intact, and the Falcons never threatened again.
“It was a battle,” Batrouni said. “This team is known for being a second half team, but we’re also known for being a second half team, and we battled and fought, and we got the dub.”
Sanchez tallied the final goal of the game on a scramble in front of the net-mouth in the 64th minute, securing the victory.
“It feels great,” Sanchez said. “We all worked hard for this since the beginning of the year. It’s just a dream come true. We’ve just got to enjoy the present right now.”
The Volunteers will return to Birkelbach field on Saturday night for the state championship match against Rockwall-Heath at 6 p.m. Two years ago, LEE came up short against Flower Mound in the championship on penalty kicks. Last year, they missed out on the playoffs entirely due to the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they finally get another chance to cap a remarkable run of dominance.
“We want to wash that taste out of our mouths,” said head coach David Rogers. “The whole goal was to get back here, and the boys have done a tremendous job. We’re excited to be back in a great environment, but most importantly, we want to close the deal.”