EULESS — It was the match we had been dreaming about from the moment the All Star Game was announced. With about ninety seconds to go in a battle locked at 2, HEB White found the go-ahead goal. Trailing 2-1 just minutes before, students from Hurst, Central, and Euless Junior High rallied to claim the first All Star title with a beautiful breakaway goal down the left wing.

HEB White pushes the attack during the first half of the All Star Match. (Photo by Colton Archuletta, Trinity High School)

White's striker tandem — both leading scorers for Hurst City — had spent most of the game waiting for a quality look. But with the match on the line, the White midfield won a ball and played it down the left wing. Their forward, who had already netted a goal earlier in the match, beat his man outside the 18-yard box and slipped a cheeky shot underneath one of the best goalkeepers in the league.

The final whistle blew shortly after that, leaving HEB Green in shock. The teams, named after the primary colors of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, had played evenly until then. Green, whose players wore the darker kits from their respective schools, took the lead early and held their edge for most of the game. They nabbed their first goal ten minutes in on a strong chip from Atlético Central's lethal left forward. Dancing through the best defenders in the league, the winger suddenly cut back and chopped into the ball with his right foot. HEB White, who played the smaller of two goaltenders between the pipes in the first half, could offer no resistance as the ball made its way into the upper left corner.

Down to the Wire

HEB White wore the lightly colored kits from their respective schools. Real Euless and Hurst City both play in white, while Spartans FC don grey kits. (Photo by Colton Archuletta, Trinity High School)

White would equalize near the end of the half on a curling ball that snuck between two center backs near midfield. A speedy attacker fell onto the loose ball, outrunning Green's back line in a race to the penalty area. From there, Hurst City's striker struck a clean ball into the near post, just underneath RUFC's starting net-minder. The 1-1 tie didn't last long.

Under Coach Girau, the Green All Stars played a familiar, possession-oriented game. Their midfield rotation featured the best number 10 and number 8 in Liga HEB, complimented by a repositioned striker on the wing. They controlled the run of play for most of the match, and found the back of the net again just before the half. In fact, the squad very nearly put the game away after the break.

HEB Green played in their school's darkly colored kits. (Photo by Daisy Portillo, Trinity High School)

Green found themselves in the driver's seat with a 2-1 lead at the start of the second half. With twenty minutes remaining in the hourlong match, their constant forward pressure drew a penalty from an otherwise disciplined defense. Two players from Raiders United stood over the ball, but the holding midfielder ultimately took the kick. He struck the ball perfectly over a White wall, bouncing it past Hurst City's keeper into the far post. Unfortunately, the tally was called back due to a foul near the front of the goal. Losing that point would prove to be the difference.

Tough Breaks and Timely Finishes

White equalized with five minutes remaining, burying a penalty kick after the Green defense handled a ball in  the box. In the waning minutes of the match, Green's meticulous pass play proved ineffective against a White side determined to absorb pressure and counterattack. Coaches Dobbs and Bean drafted their All Star team with an eye for flashy attack and sturdy defense, and the strategy paid big dividends down the stretch.

Hurst players battle for the ball to earn HEB Green a shot on goal. (Photo by Daisy Portillo, Trinity High School)

A steady defense and swift counterattacks saw HEB White take the lead for the first time just before the final whistle. Having surrendered the advantage for the first time, Green looked shaken as they rushed to make up ground in the last two minutes. Their side was designed to dominate games with patient build-up, not rack up quick strikes. Giving up a goal late was the worst possible scenario for them.

Ultimately, it was a resilient spirit that saw the team in light kits to the finish. Just as we predicted, the game wasn't decided by skill alone. The difference in this one was White's ability to communicate with each other and respond to adversity. But the final score wasn't the full story. The real victory was in the way 34 students from 6 teams and three schools interacted on the pitch. They played with passion and prowess. More importantly, they played with the most important thing a footballer can have: class.

Players ad coaches shake hands at the conclusion of the 2017 All Star match, which pitted equal numbers of players from every school and club against each other. (Photo by Colton Archuletta, Trinity High School)

Pro-quality match balls for the All Star game were generously donated by the FC Dallas Foundation. Uniforms and equipment for Liga HEB are furnished by sponsorships from Ideal Impact Inc, Elite Fitness HQ, BB&T, The Soccer Corner, 89.7 Way FM, and Parra Car Care. For more on the league, drop by the Schedule & Standings page or check out the weekly Power Rankings published on the news hub.

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