By DAVID CLAYBOURN
Greenville’s Lions hung tough with Whitehouse for nearly two-thirds of Monday’s soccer scrimmage before giving way to the Wildcats.
Whitehouse wound up outscoring the Lions 6-2 after the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie in the first half. Both teams went to the playoffs last season. Greenville lost in the bi-district round while Whitehouse lost in the second round.
Greenville coach Bert Green said the way the Lions played, especially in the first half, made him very excited about the upcoming season.
“Physically we’re where we need to be,” said Green. “Mentally, that was out biggest letdown.”
Green said the Lions will study film of the scrimmage and look at ways they can improve.
“I told our guys we had more opportunities tonight than we did in half the games last season. Opportunities that we will finish.”
The Lions had two shots bounce off the post and were very close some on some other scoring chances.
Whitehouse’s Elijah Stevenson scored the scrimmage’s first goal on a breakaway, midway through the first half.
Mario Ochoa answered with a Greenville goal off an assist from Miguel Sanchez.
Travis Blackburn put Whitehouse back up 2-1 with a penalty kick into the lower right corner of the net. Greenville’s goalkeeper guessed correctly but couldn’t reach the ball in a diving attempt.
Carlos Garcia of Greenville tied it at 2-2 with a shot from 18 yards after receiving a pass from Manny Cruz.
Garcia just missed making it 3-2 after sending a header wide early in the second half.
Whitehouse’s goalkeeper also made a high save on a strong ball sent by Greenville’s Jose Mancia.
Whitehouse’s Destin Wilkins then took advantage of a Greenville breakdown on defense to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
The Wildcats’ goalkeeper turned away another promising shot from Sanchez before Whitehouse scored three more goals on shots from Blackburn, Wilkins and Andrew Stevenson.
“They have a strong program,” said Green. “They play very well together. We get them twice.”
Green said the Lions’ game at Whitehouse on Feb. 8 will be a good indicator of where their team stands before opening district play.
The Lions officially open the season at 6 p.m. Thursday at Eagle Stadium in Prosper against Frisco Lonestar in the opening round of the Prosper tournament.