It was so cold Friday afternoon that the girls couldn’t even complain; their tongues too frozen to do much wagging! At game time it was 35 degrees, but soccer is for the hearty, and the principals squared off in the McAllen Tournament.
They’d been there before, Pace and EHS, having played in consecutive bi-district games, and this time the Lady Bobcats got the best of the Viqueens, taking a penalty-kick victory over the distant rivals after regular action ended up at a 1-1 tie.
Coach Martin Gonzalez said that his group may have let the weather get to its head in the first half, when Pace was the aggressor and attacked the EHS D with impunity for a 1-0 lead. But he was pleased with the way the Lady Bobcats reversed course after the break on a chilled, hard to bear afternoon.
“We struggled for awhile, I think we were sluggish,” said a bundled-up Gonzalez, whose team came into the season-opening tourney with impressive scrimmage efforts against McAllen outfits Rowe and Memorial. “We were way more aggressive in the second half.”
Bianca Ramos, the well-traveled and oft-injured forward, led the charge in the second, getting the equalizer late in the half on a shot that rattled through a Pace defender and bounced in, and then putting in one of the team’s three PK shots at the end. She’s way ready to put the past behind her this year.
“I feel good about being out here,” said Ramos, a transfer from North who has weathered a string of knee injuries but is now firmly ensconced in the Gonzalez battle plan for 2010. “I’ve been through a lot, but here I am.”
This year’s Lady Bobcat team is going to be hard to handle for opposing defenses, with Ramos pushing up front and fellow senior Alyssa Perez controlling the action from the center midfield position. Add in stalwart defender Andrea Solis in the back and four-year starter Ana Lopez in goal, and Edinburg has talented, experienced kids on every line.
Lopez, who stopped Pace twice in the PK session while Solis and finally, Perez scored for the win, thinks this is the year the squad gets over the bi-district hump.
“We’ve got a bunch of seniors who have been for awhile,” she explained. “So yeah, I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Also on call for the ball club are wings Beckah Rodriguez and Sam Almanza, veterans who have been around and know what to do. Karen Alvarado and Barb Paiz add depth to the offensive attack along with 2009 All-District forward Lyanna Jimenez, while Briana Sanchez and Vanessa Hinojosa will be heard from before the season is through. Depth is a definite strength this season.
Joining Solis on defense is a seasoned battler in returning All-District first-teamer Andrea Maldonado, who makes up for lack of size with a willingness to stick her nose into the fray to make the stop.
In all, it looks like this might be the year EHS gets past city rival North and is able to win a playoff game or more. The Lady ‘Cats have been a consistent playoff contender for years and in 2010 have the vets on hand to make a quality postseason run.
Gonzalez praised his team for looking good in the scrimmages, saying that the Lady ‘Cats are ahead of schedule so far. But he cautioned that there’s a long way to go before the season’s fate is seen.
“Everything is pointing toward district,” noted the coach, who added assistant Sylvia Montes to the mix after last year’s helper, Luis Cardenas, took charge of the EHS boys’ team. “We have a lot of work to do but this team is ready for it, I think.”
NOTES: The Lady ‘Cats ran into tough goes against Rowe and Mission later in the tournament, and this week will face Sharyland on the road and then a balanced field at the BISD Tourney in Brownsville.
Their male counterparts at EHS made it to the finals of the weather-marred ECISD Tourney over the weekend before losing, while the Jags of Econ dropped into the lower bracket early on.