The berth is wide open in girls’ soccer, as a number of 31-6A sides look ready to excel as the newest season kicks off. The city teams were in action over the weekend, with defending champ Econ beginning the post-Krysta-Ayssa Era with matches versus McAllen High, a Laredo school, and Brownsville Hanna.
After the graduation of Krysta Armstrong and Ayssa Ozuna, Coach Robert Garcia rebuilds around senior Arandi Platas, tough Allison Flores, and fliers Laura Gonzalez and Priscilla Vela. Platas went down with an ankle injury but should be back in action soon enough when the Lady Jags to turn their attention to the bulk of the season.
Several squads have designs on taking the crown including a physical North side and a young but talented Vela crew. EHS is expected to improve after a busy offseason spent in league and tournaments.
The Vela girls defeated Valley View, 3-0 Thursday at Richard R. Flores Stadium, with the latest prime prospect on center stage. Folks have been talking about Taylor Campbell for years now, and there’s a reason … she is simply the best soccer talent to come down the pike in many years. Superbly skilled and elegant with the ball, the freshman phenom plays head-up at all times, is a terrific passer, and has tremendous ball speed and control.
Though she did not notch a goal in her scrimmage debut, Campbell was the fulcrum through which the attack operated, controlling the action and seeing the field like a seasoned veteran. Her excellence makes the other girls better, as she slices smoothly through defenders to deliver the ball on target and with pace. Though it’s early, it’s obvious: girl is so the Real Deal!
Americo Cortez’s offense was busy from the start Thursday, tilting the field on Valley View and possessing the ball most of the day. Winger Mickaela Casas provided the first goal with a powerful blast from the right side elbow 10 minutes in, and Aide Cortez, the physical and relentless coach’s kid, banged in a goal for a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, junior Allison Torres laid on a flawless thru ball that sprinter Ayssa Arevalo ran on to and eventually slotted 25 minutes into the half. Back after missing 2017 due to an injury, Torres seems to have recovered fully, and her sweet touch and vision will benefit the side whether she is in the middle or works as a defensive wing. She scored a goal in the team’s 3-2 win over Weslaco Friday, Arevalo adding a pair.
Vela’s D can count on crafty Bri de Leon to put out fires consistently, while new keeper Glenys Maldonado has a cannon for a leg and the length and agility to close down the box well.
Cortez says that the only thing stopping his team right now is experience, as Campbell and elusive wing Odi Leal are new to the mix. But with trusty veterans such as de Leon and versatile Kris Calvillo – and the return of Torres – the Lady Sabes have to be considered among the favorites to contend for the championship.