A wild Wednesday night saw Hillgrove down to 9 men by the end of the match, and the Longhorns held on for a 3-2 win, and spot in the quarterfinals on Saturday. A fairly technical match kicked off with each side utilizing good possession to create chances. Lambert got on the front foot with a sustained attack, and a corner kick in the 16th minute saw them cash in when Logan Racine headed home a goal from the cross by Trey Hines to put the Longhorns up 1-0.
Hillgrove would turn the tide in their favor with pressure in their offensive third. A failed clearance by the Lambert defense fell to a Hillgrove player who slotted the ball across the goal mouth to a teammate at the back post who put it in the net to even the match at 1-1 in the 31st minute.
Then things got a little crazy. Dean Bogarde found a break in the Hillgrove defense and was in on goal before being taken down from behind in the box to earn a penalty kick. The Hillgrove defender was shown a straight red card for the foul, followed by a Hillgrove coach who was sent off for dissent. Eoin Griffiths sent the spot kick into the corner and the Longhorns were back up 2-1 as the match went into halftime.
Up a man and a goal, Lambert was looking to put the game on ice in the second half, but could not break through. The longer the match stayed 2-1, the longer Hillgrove maintained hope and that hope was rewarded with a goal in the 57th minute on a free kick that was lofted into the box, and redirected into the net to even the match again at 2-2.
The equalizer seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for Lambert to reassert themselves. Kyler Darsey entered the match and immediately made his presence felt with strong runs and pressure on the defense. Soon after, Zane Ziegler took possession on the right wing, beat the defender on the edge and sent a perfect cross to Darsey who took it in stride and deposited it into the left corner to put the Longhorns back up 3-2 with just 15 minutes remaining in the match.
Credit to Hillgrove, while playing a man down for more than 40 minutes, kept plugging away but the Lambert defense held up and didn't allow any serious threats in the final minutes. Hillgrove's frustration boiled over in the final two minutes as they had another player shown a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct, and they finished the match with only 9 men on the field.
With the victory, the Longhorns move on to the quarterfinals on Saturday against Walton. Based on the result of a coin toss on Thursday, Lambert will host the match on Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m.