The season has not unfolded like they planned, but there is still time to make a late run for the EHS soccer programs.
In against Vela Tuesday at Richard R. Flores Stadium, the Bobcat sides each made a solid account, the boys going down in PKs after a scoreless duel with the SaberCats and the girls battling the Lady Sabes tooth and nail before dropping a 1-0 result.
Bobcat coach Luis Cardenas noted before the action began that his squad, despite a recent flurry of cards, has been competitive.
“We were right there against P-SJ-A North and then we had a couple of ejections that hurt,” he said. “Then we were playing the Bears and doing well, only down a goal at the half. Then we let down and the Bears started looking like Barcelona out there! It’s been tough, we’re young, and if something had gone right for us in those games, at the right time, it may have been different.”
The ‘Cats did manage to pull off an upset victory against Econ Feb. 17, continuing a long string of positive performances against their old rival, and they have only been blown out once in nine starts. In fact, Cardenas has suffered through six one-goal losses with his side, four after penalty kicks.
Without depth and experience, the ‘Cats are still working and looking for an opening. Vela completed the season sweep of EHS though in the standings the ‘Cats were at 10 points, the Sabes just five.
North won its fifth straight Tuesday, clipping Southwest in PKs to tie the Javelinas for first. Econ defeated Memorial with a sound 4-goal effort and were just a point off the playoff pace heading into Friday’s action at P-SJ-A; the Bears, at 15 points, were a huge target for the Jags (14).
Meanwhile, the girls have had similar luck, or lack thereof. Coach Serjio Elizarraraz has a gutty, physical crew that lays the wood to make up for a relative lack of quickness. EHS lost a pair of 1-goal results earlier in the slate but in recent matches has had trouble offensively.
“I think our play is somewhat better than our record might show,” Elizarraraz said. “But we have been struggling to score.”
The Lady Bobcats have been shut out five times in district, and after Tuesday’s 1-0 loss had gone three games without harming the net. Against Vela they ran to a couple of nice chances late in the clock, after having held the high-octane Vela crew to just one scratch, from Ayssa Arevalo. After having tallied 27 times in eight outings coming in – tied for tops in the goal category with Econ and Southwest – Coach Tonya Garcia’s bunch only got one against EHS, but it was enough to stay in the race pending Friday’s showdown with Southwest.
Still, EHS was solid Tuesday, thanks in part to Juana Garza, a workhorse in back, while Yesenia Valdez, the powerlifting standout, has provided a lift. Mel Mercelita, still working her way back from a serious injury, showed flashes of her fine ability against Vela.
In the league list, unbeaten Econ (9-0, 26 points) was leading SW (23) and Vela (21) as Friday’s action neared. A 1-2 finish is imperative because 3-4 from 31-6A will have to tangle with Harlingen South and Los Fresnos, very strong 32-6A units that are headed for 1-2 without doubt. Southwest defeated Edinburg North in PKs Tuesday, leaving the Lady Coogs in fifth with 10 points, tied with Memorial. Friday Coach Danny Valdez’ gals then got a shot at Pharr North, which was two points ahead, in the biggest match of the season.
The Vela boys pulled off a shocker at home with a 3-2 victory over Southwest, knocking the Javelinas out of first place in the process.
Coach Americo Cortez, whose team netted three set-piece goals and held off the enemy at the close, noted that his club had its head in the right place.
“It’s all mental with them,” he said, pointing to his temple. “They know they have talent, they just have to show it more, and believe they can.”
Senior Carlos Aparicio, who had a hand in all three goals Friday, echoed those sentiments.
“If we stay focused, we can do things like this,” said Aparicio, who was headed to San Antonio Saturday to try out for the soccer team at St. Mary’s. “Now, the key is going to be that we put this one behind us, be consistent, and play the rest of the games like this didn’t happen. In other words, not get cocky.”
The Vela girls lost a heartbreaker in the nightcap, surrendering two ill-timed goals – one with six seconds left in the first half and the other with six minutes left on an own goal off a Southwest corner – to miss their chance to move into second place. Now the Lady Sabes, despite a spirited effort against the Lady Javs in the 2-1 loss, are going to have to win out over the last two weeks and get some help to avoid a third-place finish.
The North girls got it done Friday against Pharr North at home, taking a 1-0 result, while the boys also were victorious, stretching their streak to six games by walloping the Raiders, 3-0 behind a hat trick from Azael de Leon. North has control of first place with a big match coming Tuesday against Econ on the road.
The Lady Bobcats scored once Friday and it was enough for a 1-0 decision over Memorial.