When they touch, pass, and use their speed, it tends to wear the opposing teams out. This is the lesson that Coach Americo Cortez is attempting to teach the Lady SaberCats, so Friday’s 3-1 victory at home against P-SJ-A Southwest should serve as a positive learning experience.
Dominating the run of play throughout with attacking, team-oriented soccer, Vela won for the second time in a week, following Tuesday’s triumph over EHS at Richard R. Flores Stadium, and is right in the thick of the 31-6A race so far.
“We did a good job of it tonight, touching the ball, passing, that is the style this team needs to play every time,” said Cortez, whose team rallied from a 1-0 deficit to level late in the first half before putting a pair of goals in the net after the break. “We had a lot of chances tonight and we told the girls at the half, ‘Southwest is getting tired, just keep it up.’”
Friday saw the defense suffer some lapses but sophomore goalkeeper Ashley de la Cruz, vastly improved this campaign, covered for the gaffes, making a couple of outstanding diving saves. After the Lady Sabes came close on a number of chances, Southwest countered to push one home with 12 minutes to go in the first.
But Vela rebounded near the end of the period, as Ayramar Cortez rolled a great pass into the box, after beating a defender to the ball in the left corner. Freshman Taylor Campbell slotted it home at 3:21 to even the count.
In the second half the Lady Sabes cruised onward with left wing Odessa Leal enjoying an impressive night of runs and centering crosses. Allison Torres was very active against Southwest, using her head for expert passes and showing team leadership throughout. Campbell forced the action leading to the second goal, which came on a Torres corner kick that bounded in off a Lady Javelina at 24:27. Later, Campbell got her second goal of the game, at 20:42, and from there it was Easy Street
“Taylor passed the ball well tonight, she is going to get a bunch of defenders coming at her,” Cortez commented. “Physically, skill-wise, she is far ahead right now, and she is learning how to emotionally tackle the game. The other freshman, Odi, she played a heckuva game too.”
Vela is 2-1 with seven points, behind North (3-0, eight points) and the pair of P-SJ-A and Memorial, unbeaten with clean lines after three games for nine points. The Lady Coogs are fast out of the gate, and scored seven, allowing none last week in W’s against Southwest and Pharr North.
SABES FALL SHORT, 1-0
The Vela boys were not as fortunate in the second half of the doubleheader Friday, dropping a 1-0 decision to a Southwest team that is also adept at handling the ball, touching and passing. The SaberCats worked hard to deny the talented Javelinas and got some scoring chances off the mammoth free kicks of senior lefty Austin Garza.
The return of fast-paced Michael Giambra in the middle also was a plus, as he created havoc as a defender and got forward for a couple of prime shot attempts. Defender Alvaro Ortega stood out with his crafty play in back, particular his headers, while Alexis Ayala turned in another gutty performance.
But aside from the handful of soaring boots from Garza, Vela struggled to connect in the attacking third, though Luis Flores hammered a promising shot in the first half and Brando Lopez made a number of runs into the zone.
In other action last week, the Jags raced to 3-0 while North finished a frustrating week that saw it lose twice on penalty kicks. EHS was close against Memorial on the road, going down 3-2. This week the signature match has North at Econ Tuesday. The Jags sit at nine points with Southwest a notch behind at eight.