After moving through the post-game handshake line on Saturday afternoon, the 16 players on the Our Lady of the Hills’ boys soccer roster marched in unison toward their applauding fans.
When they came within 10 feet of the cheering crowd, they stopped and smiled, waving to family and friends before returning to hear coach Garret Kull’s postgame speech.
With a steady drizzle and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, the weather remained miserable throughout the Hawks’ first-round playoff contest against Katy Faith West. But that didn’t stop several hundred OLH fans from flooding the soccer field at the Kerrville Sports complex to support their squad. The Hawks, in turn, rewarded with their supporters with a show, throttling Faith West, 5-1, to advance to the second round in the TAPPS Div. III playoffs.
Junior Brian Casillas scored three goals within the match’s first 20 minutes. Christian Harris and Stefan Sirianni each delivered a goal in the second half to punctuate the Hawks’ playoff victory. They will travel to play Houston St. Thomas Episcopal on Tuesday.
But before they turned their attention to their next playoff opponent, they made sure to thank the fans who attended Saturday’s match.
“It means everything whenever you have people rooting for you,” Harris said. “I think it’s intimidating for the other team too when they come here. We are not a big school, but I think there were more people out here supporting us today than we have at OLH.
“It was really nice to have — just a big home crowd and everyone rooting for you.”
The Hawks gave their fans reasons to cheer early and often. Casillas played a big role in OLH’s success this season, entering the match with 13 goals in district play. He didn’t waste any time showcasing his attacking talent on Saturday. In the first minute, he darted past the defense and launched a shot on goal that grazed the fingertips of the goal keeper. He didn’t score, but still managed to send a message to Faith West: He and his Hawks planned on attacking the whole match.
They scored in the third minute when Stephen Grocki zipped a cross from the right flank to Casillas, who tapped the ball past the goalkeeper for the Hawks’ first goal.
“That’s been a connection since day one,” OLH soccer coach Garrett Kull said. “Naturally, you find guys on the field who just click together. It’s really been that way all year long … It’s a good connection, but it’s also the other guys creating those allies and those angles.”
The Hawks continued attacking different angles throughout the match. Later in the first half, Casillas blazed past the defense from the left corner and blasted another kick past the goalkeeper. After his second goal, a Faith West defender looked at his teammates and said, “No. 14 is their guy.”
By then, the realization was too late. Casillas secured his hat trick on a corner kick to extend OLH’s lead to 3-0. And even though Faith West scored before halftime, the Hawks never felt threatened in the second half. Harris scored to push the cushion to 4-1 and Sirianni delivered the exclamation point. All that was left to do was celebrate with their fans. And then plan a trip to Houston.
“It’s a long drive,” Harris said. “But we will show up and do the same thing we did here.”