EHS STANDS IN AGAINST LOS FRESNOS, GRINDS OUT THRILLING BI-DISTRICT WIN
Yeah, they knew the odds, super long, and they understood the talent and tradition of the visiting opponent, a formidable Los Fresnos side that has been putting Valley foes in their graves for many years. They grasped the desperate nature of the bi-district struggle at hand Friday night, but as the minutes bled into eternity, bit by bit, the Lady Bobcats began to intuit that this might be their moment, their magic carpet unrolling for a journey onward.
And so it was!
Working at a breakneck pace against a bigger and stronger, better skilled enemy – the district champion from 32-6A for the seventh time in the past 10 seasons – Edinburg High fought, and scratched, and clawed. Its undersize little brawlers withstood a massive physical pounding from the Lady Falcons, surviving on sheer will, and at the half, it was scoreless.
That’s when the Lady ‘Cats started to believe that they were going to have a shot at the miraculous. And they went out and made it happen. Hanging on into the overtime session with determination and increasing confidence, Coach Cerjio Elizarraraz’ long shots came home winners, thanks to a free kick off the boot of senior Regina Monroy which eluded the Los Fresnos keeper’s grasp with just three minutes left before the possibility of penalty kicks to decide the first-round postseason clash at EHS.
When a gutty defensive group led by keeper Kristen Salinas fended off a few last-second attacks to clinch the amazing and wonderful upset, the mighty Lady Falcons – with a bevy of McHigh-like athletes, a handful of them headed soon for college futbol – staggered off the pitch, stunned and silenced.
Meanwhile, the EHS girls erupted with a well-earned celebration that they will all remember until their last gasps of breath on this earth. If these two sides were to play 20 times, Los Fresnos might have felt certain that it would win at least 15, maybe more.
All it takes is one, though, and Friday was it. Steep odds, mismatch in talent, some were saying beforehand. Los Fresnos, one of the power teams of the region for years, in against a callow side that had made the grade with speed, aggression, and a winning attitude, lack of experience notwithstanding. Big upset, yes, but for EHS in bi-district, all the headlines and hype about Los Fresnos, well … it was whatever, baby … game over!!!
“I have been working on free kicks in practice, trying to get the ball to curve,” said the joyous Monroy afterward as her 10-year-old sister Roberta, stars in her eyes, tried desperately to reach her sibling. “And I got some curve on it, and it just got out of the goalie’s hands!”
Sort of a microcosm, the comment, about the result, because EHS, facing a daunting task, just kept working, and found a way to get past the Lady Falcons in one of the most action-packed thrillers one could possibly hope to see.
THE DRAMA BUILDS
Faced with a stiff spring wind that has been a constant the past several weeks, the Lady Bobcats set to work on the mountain Friday with even more obstacles. Two regular defenders were out with knocks, and Los Fresnos methodically carved their way into the attacking third with regularity. But once there, sledding proved tougher, as Angie Molina and Daniela Toscano pounced like Bobcats will, and their spirited play complemented the sure-handed Salinas in net and the steady pair of Milena Munoz and Mia Noyola.
Up the field, it was Monroy battling with the big, sturdy Lady Falcons, and the absolutely indefatigable Leah Sanchez smashing into, through, and around her opponents in white. Every time the visitor looked like it was tilting the field and about to unleash a torrent of goals, someone on D for EHS stepped in to save it. Debanhi Rodriguez, the seasoned veteran in the middle, looked for speeding Miriela Munoz on a wing, and the Lady ‘Cats made a few counters of promise in the first half.
The visitor had two golden chances at the end of the first, but EHS would not budge. Interval whistle, no goals. And on came the undercats. At one stage in the second half, Sanchez appeared to get clobbered in the box but no call was forthcoming. She responded by going up for a 50-50 ball with one of Los Fresnos’ several six-footers, showing that she was not going to quit working.
Then Little Sarah Garcia began to make space with her quickness, and EHS brought the fight to the favored foe, without a hitch.
Still, after 80 minutes, though they had played a tremendous match, the Lady ‘Cats were not about to cease their maniacal rush. Before the first overtime session, the girls plopped in an exhausted pile on the grass, sucking for extra air and girding for what lay ahead.
Wind in their face for the first 10 minutes, the home chicks got outstanding clearances from Toscano and super contributions from lanky freshman Abby Trevino, holding Los Fresnos out. With three minutes left, Miriela Munoz sailed a tantalizing centering ball from the right, smack dab in the box, to no avail. Second OT.
The Lady Falcs came awfully close early on but EHS held, leading to a fine try from Trevino which went over. Next, Trevino rifled a ball into the area and Sanchez rose for it, coming just short of the header. Time on the march and Rodriguez blocked a Los Fresnos ball with her face, causing a stoppage. Soon after, Sanchez drew the foul that led to Monroy’s golden winner, and at 1:22 Salinas saved the last of Los Fresnos’ tries for the equalizer.
“We have played with consistency all year,” said a jubilant Eli after the mammoth undertaking was assured. “Tonight the girls had the heart of a champion, we knew that Los Fresnos was going to get going, when they turn on the jets, they’re scary! I kept saying that Los Fresnos wasn’t going to give us a thing, we had to earn it.”
Truth there, man. EHS stood tall against a dynamite opponent and scrapped for the victory. Every kid who saw the pitch produced a moment or two of greatness, and that is exactly what needs to happen when a team is up against such a gargantuan task.
Bravo to the Lady Bobcats, bien hecho!!