Possession is generally seen as a vital part of a futbol side’s success … until it’s not. As Econ swept to a pair of victories at North on a misty Friday, one could see that odd, convoluted maxim in play, literally.
For stretches of both the girls’ and boys’ matches, North had control out there, but was unable to finish. For the Jags, same thing: buildup and surge, followed by nothing, until a few lightning strikes determined the result. One becomes accustomed to the ebb and flow, the precarious nature of momentum, and the unpredictability of the sport.
That is part of its beauty, of course.
LADY JAGS 2, LADY COOGS 1
The Lady Jags got their lightning strike right off the tip, as Alison Flores hammered a perfect diagonal ball into the North box during the first minute Friday. Opportunistic striker Ayssa Ozuna – headed to Sul Ross next year along with teammate Krysta Armstrong in a definite coup for the Lobos – pounced and slotted, and it was 1-0, Econ at 39:02. As the rain passed slim sheets of water over the heads of the players, North gradually began to get going. But on this night, Maritzela Guzman and Jazmine Muniz were rocks on defense, and EN scoring whiz Itza Rios never got many good looks at frame.
North did draw level, however, with less than 14 minutes to go, as Esmer Cano banged a free kick into the area and America Torres corralled the rebound to tie it. Torres, along with Adaly “Red” Cantu and rugged Courtney Ortiz, has come on lately to solidify the Lady Coog rotation; all were sidelined for various reasons in the early going.
In the second half, the Lady Jags kept possession for the first 25 minutes, retaking the lead at 25:39 when Armstrong controlled masterfully on volley, stepped around a defender in rhythm, and rocketed a laser off the bar and in.
Though North rallied to some chances late, the Lady Jags held on to run to 4-0 in district, and were one point behind first place P-SJ-A Southwest, pending Tuesday’s showdown at home against the speedy Lady Javelinas.
Econ Coach Robert Garcia was impressed with the effort of the Lady Coogs.
“They played very well at times and we needed to come out with more intensity, we had to play harder,” Garcia said. “When it’s a city rival, throw everything out the window, it’s gonna be tough.”
JAGS 2, COOGS 0
In the boys’ nightcap, North was swift from the start, rushing to a number of tries at goal, only to be denied by keeper Javi Perez and the Jag defense. The Coogs were coming off a distressing loss to Southwest during which they surrendered a lead twice, losing on a disputed call that led to a Javelina penalty kick with 28 seconds left in the game.
Friday, they did not manage to cash their first-half chances, failing to convert off five free kicks and a trio of corners. The Jags, played off their feet somewhat during the half, wasted little time after the break in establishing themselves from that stage onward.
Five minutes in, the wonderful Jonathan Segundo floated underneath a beauty of a free kick from Hiram Iracheta, heading the ball in for a 1-0 advantage. Fifty-two seconds later, it was Segundo again, drawing a foul in the box and subsequently launching a winning PK past the North minder for the two-goal lead that held up.
With momentum and the lead, Econ (2-2) held possession following the lightning strikes and closed out the 1-3 Coogs despite a late rush from the home side. Mario Ferrer contributed a clearing header and Gama Lugo bravely body-blocked a free kick from just outside the box to preserve the shutout.
Right now, the top four boys’ teams in 31-6A, points-wise, are from the Tri Cities area. North and Econ, at five points each, sit one beneath P-SJ-A and Pharr North, with Southwest (10) and Memorial (9) atop the league. Vela, which lost by a goal to Memorial Friday, has three points, EHS four. Tuesday’s big match has North at EHS while Econ hosts Southwest and Vela tries its luck at Pharr North.
As stated, the Lady Jags are a point off the Southwest pace, making Tuesday a huge night on the East Side. Running third in the girls’ league is Vela, which blanked Memorial, 2-0 in its last outing to gain revenge for a tournament loss to the Lady Wolverines. Next up was to be the Lady Raiders, who also defeated Vela earlier, down at the Brownsville Tourney.
EHS, which got twin scores from strapping Raquel Rawlings Friday in taking out P-SJ-A for its first league triumph, is tied with North at three points, so the winner of Tuesday’s collision will take a step forward into contention.