SAN JUAN — The strategy was to hammer away at the Lady Bears, keeping star scorer Sammie Sifuentes off her game. It worked well enough for North Friday, as the Lady Coogs withstood a second-half equalizer from the senior standout to take a 3-1 overtime win.
The victory makes North 1-1 in District 31-5A and 17-5 overall, after a disappointing 4-0 loss to Harlingen suffered in the league opener Tuesday. Jamie Torres got the go-ahead goal in the first extra session, with quick-footed freshman Kimberly Rodriguez notching another with three seconds left in the 10-minute span. The Lady Coog defense blanked P-SJ-A over the next OT period to salt away the win.
Playing without senior defender Andrea “Little Red” Gonzalez (battle with anemia, she should be back this week) and with an ailing Destiny Rodriguez (quad), the Lady Coogs dug in against Sifuentes and the Lady Bears to grind out a road win on a chilly 53-degree night.
Rodriguez nearly broke the ice at 24:00 of the first, while rugged freshman Dulce Balderas was excellent on defense. Kimberly Rodriguez, slender but well skilled, fired a sharp pass to Gisela Ledezma that almost led to a goal at 20:02.
With stocky Aleyna Cubriel providing booming placement kicks and anchoring the D at sweeper, North was able to counteract the high-scoring Sifuentes. Destiny Rodriguez and Mariana Watson took turns following her around, as the Lady Coogs sent Sifuentes to the turf eight times on the night.
Speedy Viri Torres made a couple of nice runs to the zone late in the half but there was nothing happening there. North scratched first after the break when the soph Cubriel hammered a 40-yard free kick past the keeper for a 1-0 lead two minutes in.
The Lady Coogs lost Sifuentes at 25:12, however, and she sent one home to tie the game.
But with Watson and Aleyna Perez working hard in the back, North maintained composure and set about taking the lead. Problem was, P-SJ-A was just as solid on defense and the match went to OT.
Destiny Rodriguez, who has been yellow-carded late in the opening stanza and plagued by leg pain, sat out large chunks of the second half. But she returned to the fray in OT and made the play of the day.
Chasing a loose ball 40 yards down into the left corner, she steadied to launch a super pass into the zone that Kim Rod took a swipe at: blocked. Torres fielded the rebound and scored, and later the Lady Coogs took a commanding 3-1 lead to finish it off when Kim Rod’s long and accurate 20-yard side-footer from the left back righ beat the horn.
The team looked forward to a challenge Tuesday against Econ, off to a solid start in 2010; last year the Lady Jags pulled off a late-season upset of North to keep the Lady Coogs from tying for the league title.
That made Tuesday’s city grudge match a no-brainer from the intensity perspective.