Edinburg North expired down in Los Fresnos Tuesday, going down to an upstart Falcon team that scored an exciting 4-3 double-overtime win. The Cougars ended 18-7-1 for the season with the bi-district loss.
North, second in 31-5A this year, scored quickly as the game began with Virgil Pena picking up a rebound winner off a shot from freshman star Cesar Barajas for his 22nd goal of the season. But the Falcons (16-9-1, third in 32-5A) answered quickly with a strike from awesome star Alfonso Magana, a teammate of Pena’s on the Houston Dynamo developmental squad. Putting in the first of three goals on the night, Magana got the quick equalizer at 32:26 when the Coogs experienced problems clearing the ball on defense.
That would be one of the recurring nightmares for North on the night, as the defenders struggled and the goalkeeping was not playoff-caliber.
Still, with smooth-handling Cookie Vazquez in the middle and Pena and Barajas harassing Los Fresnos on the wings, the city squad soon regained the momentum. However, after a number of promising runs including a near-miss from Barajas at 28:20, Tomas Borjas of Los Fresnos got loose behind a sluggish backline for a score at 24:02 and a 2-1 advantage.
Pena nearly tallied when he and the ball arrived at the keeper simultaneously, but was foiled at 20:00. But Barajas later rebounded a Pena miss and netted it for the tying goal at 12:18.
The see-saw teetered again minutes later as two defenders collided in deep trying to stop an unreal run from Magana, who carried the ball on a string through five men to give the Falcons back the lead at 10:12.
It had been a fierce first half of action, and it got even rougher in the second stanza, as the teams began to pound each other at every turn. Pena and Barajas kept up their charges into the zone, with the former going high on a free-kick opportunity at 35:50.
North had consistent trouble winning ball against a tall LF group that played with energy and precision throughout. Though the Coogs worked their vaunted passing game well at times, with seniors Vazquez and Efren Mar looking good, they could not convert. Vazquez sent a laser wide at 28:00, followed by a close hip-shot from Jordan Quiroz. But as time began to wane and several players on both sides suffered from cramps, it looked dicey for the favored side.
Barajas, who was intensity personified all night, maneuvered one-against-three to an excellent try at 13:50, but his magnificent effort ended in a blocked shot out front. Pena, playing his last game as a Cougar after a superb four-year career, almost tied it with a header at the 5-minute mark.
It came down to the last two minutes, and the Cougars were able to strike gold, as Barajas raced into the left corner and sent a looping centering ball that hustling Jorge Rivera picked up on the run with a nifty backside header to tie it at 3 with 2:19 left.
In overtime, fatigue was definitely a factor, and North seemed to be the more conditioned side. The Coogs produced four good attempts in the first five minutes of the 10-minute extra period, to no avail. The best chance came later, at 1:29, when Vazquez fed to Pena, who dropped off for Barajas’ boomer that went wide right.
The big news from the OT came with three seconds to play, when Los Fresnos hammered the keeper and drew a red card, leaving the Falcons a man down heading into the second extra frame.
But North was too anxious to exploit the personnel advantage, making rushed passes and failing to take the ball in. Jose Morales, who played a rugged game for the Coogs, pulled down Magana near the box and the star converted a bullet of a right-flank free kick high left for the goal that won the match at 2:04.
Pena’s last-ditch effort on a FK with 0:41 to play was unsuccessful, and the season had come to an end for the Coogs.
NOTES: Econ dropped out in the second round Saturday, losing to La Joya (4-2) for the second year in a row.