For the seniors, it’s been a difficult year, as the Lady Jags have seldom been able to throw their best starting lineup out there for more than a game or two at a time. Econ had hoped to contend for a playoff spot in 2009, but injuries, player migrations, and other issues have robbed the squad of any momentum.
Until now, that is.
Facing a strong Edinburg unit Friday on the road, the Lady Jags (4-7) weathered a consistent peppering on goal all night, countering for a surprise goal with 3:53 left to upset the Lady Bobcats, 1-0, winning for the fourth time in six outings after an 0-5 start.
After such a disappointing beginning to district action, Robert Garcia’s determined bunch has now beaten both city rivals in the space of a week, following up on a stunning victory against previously unbeaten Edinburg North last week with a rude result against EHS.
Garcia says that though it’s been up and down this year, the girls have retained their composure and drive.
“They have had a lot of fun despite all the obstacles,” said the first-year coach, who replaced Hector Rodriguez after three seasons as boys’ assistant under Sam Gonzalez. “Even when they lose they bounce back with a good attitude. I had these girls as freshmen when I was a girls’ assistant, and it’s nice to see them coming on strong at the end.”
That senior group includes Olivia Sotelo, Jessica Esquivel, and Abby Garcia up front with Cassie Martinez and Juanita Torres in the back, and those Lady Jags, among others, all had a hand in the upset win. EHS approached goalkeeper Maria Hernandez no less than 25 times on the night, mostly with quick runs on the wings by Beckah Rodriguez and Alyssa Perez. But every time the Lady ‘Cats (7-4) got close, the Lady Jag defense was there.
Sweeper Tasha Goyta had a fantastic night with 10 clears, while Torres and Martinez used their strength to ward off shot after shot from the wings. While EHS had numerous chances, its centering balls were not picked up inside with any regularity.
Meanwhile, Econ leading scorers Dulce Torres and Sotelo had few opportunities as the team spent most of the night hanging on for dear life deep in its own zone.
However, the underdog mounted a nifty passing attack in the final 10 minutes and down the stretch, Sotelo launched one from the left flank. EHS keeper Adriana Lopez mishandled the shot and there was the junior Torres, snaking in like she has done so many times, to corral the loose ball and pop it in with less than four minutes left. After all that near-miss action from the Lady ‘Cats, Econ snatched the win despite taking only four shots on goal all night.
Prior to the game, the Lady Jags had used press clippings to get fired up. Preparing for the grudge match, EHS Coach Martin Gonzalez had commented that after upsetting North, the Lady Jags had a fire going, and it was his team’s responsibility to put it out.
“I guess we have the fire going even more, muy grande,” laughed Sotelo after the game. “We were a little surprised to have beaten Cougars, and it’s a little sad that we are just now getting it going. But it was a great game, we won, and we’re showing everyone the power we’ve got.”
EHS still looks good for the third-place spot, while Econ will have to win its last three and get some help to sneak in. But the Lady Jags have salvaged their season with a gutty senior group that refuses to die.
“The win against North, well, it is something the girls will remember their whole lives,” Garcia noted. “And as for tonight, I am equally proud of the way they fought and didn’t give up. This is the way we could have been playing all year.”