Team Palermo had won four consecutive league titles entering the City of Kerrville’s Adult Summer Soccer championship on Thursday. Team Corona Cowboys, however, were confident they were going to dethrone the dynasty.
That confidence carried over into their performance at the Kerrville Sports Complex. The Corona Cowboys, flush with some of Tivy soccer’s most decorated alumni, scored four unanswered goals to secure a 4-3 triumph in front of more than 200 spectators on Thursday, claiming their first City League title.
Alex Gutierrez, who set the Tivy school record for most goals in a single season, led the Corona Cowboys with two goals. Joel Pelton, who netted 32 goals in 2019, added a goal, and Jasen Zirkel supplied the fourth goal to secure the victory.
“It’s not the most prestigious title, but it’s still fun,” Pelton said. “It’s good to get active and play with your friends.”
Pelton and his teammates have been close friends for more than 10 years. That chemistry was evident throughout Thursday’s match, even when the Corona Cowboys fell behind early in the match.
Gutierrez provided the equalizer on a free kick moments before halftime, squeezing the ball past two Palermo defenders into the back of the net.
“Before I got here, I was watching soccer videos,” Gutierrez said. “I saw that goal on a video from Lionel Messi. He did that, and I realized it was my opportunity to do it. I tried it and it worked it out.”
“He’s really good,” added Pelton, who then turned toward Gutierrez and smiled. “He’s gotten a little slower since high school, but he’s still good. It’s always fun to play with him and not against him.”
Pelton gave the Corona Cowboys the lead early in the second half. During a throw-in, Caleb Kissinger tossed the ball to Pelton in the penalty box. Pelton quickly fielded the ball and launched a shot past the goalkeeper.
Gutierrez netted his second goal a couple of minutes later. Zirkel scored a goal on another free kick to give the Corona Cowboys a 4-1 advantage.
Palermo netted two goals in the final minutes, but there wasn’t enough time to finish the rally. The Corona Cowboys had finally won a title.
They tried to downplay their excitement after the final whistle. Still, they posed for team photos after the match, and each of them took a turn clutching the golden trophy.
It didn’t matter that it wasn’t exactly the most prestigious title. They had all gone their separate ways after they graduated from Tivy. They proved this summer that the chemistry is still there.
And that alone was worth celebrating on Thursday.
“There is a new champion in town. … It feels great,” Gutierrez said. “It’s been a great journey and a lot of hard work. We finally made it. I’m so excited and thankful to everyone who supported us.”