The Austin Aztex salvaged a frustrating night with a game-tying goal in the waning minutes of their game against the Midland/Odessa Sockers Friday.
Entering the game, Austin already clinched the Premier Development League Mid South Division and were awarded hosting rights for the Southern Conference Championships hours before the game. With the division wrapped up, the Aztex played a sloppy first half.
“Obviously, our intensity wasn’t there,” said Aztex head coach Manuel Buentello. “The players took their foot off the gas with the understanding that we’re already in the playoffs.”
Midland took advantage of Austin’s sloppiness as Sockers forward Rory Knibbs found the back of the net in the 28th minute. Knibbs' goal extended a concerning trend for the Aztex as they conceded their fifth straight opening goal at home.
After giving up the goal, frustration set in, as nothing seemed to be working for the Aztex.
“It [was] frustrating because it was self-imposed,” Aztex defender Marshall Tucker said. “We just got away from our game.”
Austin’s frustration continued in the second half as former Aztex forward Walker Hume extended the Sockers’ lead with a goal in the 49th minute.
The Sockers second goal appeared to be just what the Aztex needed to get going. They cut the deficit to 2-1 after forward Chuy Cortes was able to find defender Kalen Ryden for a goal.
Austin had a slew of opportunities as the game came to an end, but it appeared as if they would all go for naught.
But, in the final seconds of extra time, the Aztex found themselves with one last opportunity on a free kick. With the last shot, the ball was sent into the box and fired off the post before Tucker booted it in for the equalizer saving the Aztex from defeat.
“It’s great [to score so late],” Tucker said. “You think the game might be over. I thought the ref was going to blow the whistle…It’s a great feeling.”
The Aztex will close the season at home with a game against the Houston Dutch Lions Thursday at House Park at 7 p.m.