The answers: yes and yes.

The questions: 1. Is North the most rugged, physically superior bunch in the league? and 2. Are the EHS girls for real in 2019?

These two sides squared off Tuesday on a blustery evening at Richard R. Flores Stadium, and the Lady Coogs pounded their way to a solid result against the pesky Lady Bobcats, the final scoreline being 2-0 after a late penalty kick from the fabulous cannon Daniela Ortiz added to an earlier netter from fellow senior Janelle Saenz.

That the Lady Coogs were able to withstand the upstart EHS charge was principally due to strength, aggression, and hard-nosed overall desire. That, and tremendous on-ball work from Ortiz and midfield whiz Elvira Torres, who connect well together and create chances downfield for fliers such as Saenz, who tipped a scoreless game into a 1-0 North lead at 27:12. After Ortiz powered a kick into the box, Saenz located it, controlled on a bounce, and volleyed home.

At that stage in the second half. EHS had manufactured its share of chances and in fact, had enjoyed a prime opportunity seconds before North’s counter goal. With exquisite passing from Debanhi Rodriguez, Leah Sanchez, and precocious freshman Miriela Munoz, the Lady ‘Cats were on the doorstep, but North zoomed out of its third with a wide ball to Ortiz, who sailed one for the prowling Saenz.

That is vintage North, defensive stop, long ball, quick strike and this production seemed to momentarily stun EHS. Coach Serjio Elizarraraz’s side came in with a bunch of victories in a row, including one over Weslaco East to start league play. And at times, the Lady Bobcats seemed to be a right good match for the defending champs, rushing into the attacking third and showing the form that has made them the surprise crew of the season so far.

But unfortunately for them, the maulers were ready. Sisters Jahaira and Dayanara Hernandez were great Tuesday, laying licks, moving well with the ball after stops – especially freshman Jahaira, who is off to a wonderful start in high school futbol – and starting the action heading back the other way.

Cortney Ortiz, the strong-legged senior, also had a super game for North with a number of defensive gems, and her decision-making process has improved in 2019.

Every time Sanchez or Munoz (the latter a proud St. Joseph graduate along with sister Milena, a staunch defender) got near the ball, they were clobbered by a stronger North defender. When Rodriguez made some noise in the midfield, one of the Ortiz girls would step in to stop the run.

In fact, Daniela Ortiz seemed to be everywhere at once Tuesday, making runs and laying off rolling balls to teammates, and then appearing way back upfield to sabotage efforts from the light-limbed and supremely talented Munoz of EHS; the latter was battered unmercifully and left the game midway through the second half, but showed her toughness by returning to try and lead a comeback.

The Lady Bobcats also got some promising runs from speedy little Sarah Garcia down left, only to see one of the Hernandez gals close out with step-ins or straight-up blocks. Cortney Ortiz absolutely splattered a hustling Sanchez outside the box at 11:30 of the final horn and at the 6-minute mark Brenda Ricardez used her considerable speed to race over and erase EHS’s Garcia after she had received a fruitful feed from Sanchez.

Daniela Ortiz, equal parts power and elegance, blazed a PK past the keeper at 4:32 for the final margin.

After having beaten Vela 1-0 Jan. 29 and gotten two points out of Donna North Feb. 1, the Lady Coogs completed the first leg of the journey in good shape. EHS meanwhile served notice that the rumors of its ascendance were not false in the least. The Lady ‘Cats were outmuscled by an experienced North group, but expect them to take a peck of victories in 31-6A this season, with a vastly improved lineup and a real spirit of can-do.

Tuesday action also saw the Lady SaberCats over at Weslaco where they blitzed the Pantherettes, 5-0, to prepare for their next fixture, Tuesday against Donna North after Friday’s bye. Econ went down at home to Donna North Tuesday, and fell to 0-4 after a loss to EHS Friday. The Lady Bobcats are at six points following the win, tied with Vela, while North – which defeated Weslaco East Friday – is at 11 points, a mark clear of Donna North.