The city enjoyed its greatest soccer season yet, sending five of six teams to the playoffs, but the going was to get a sight tougher with the advent of the postseason Tuesday.
The flip for home and home resulted in a rout, as four of the five settled for road games in bi-district; the EHS boys were the only unit to win a home match, against state-ranked Brownsville Lopez, which has lost just twice all season.
Meanwhile, North finished 10-4 in district and failed to win the league title thanks to a shootout finale loss to EHS (10-4), leaving Econ in first for the fifth straight season. The Jags (11-3) were to face off with 8-6 Brownsville Pace Tuesday on Brownsville, while the Cougars drew a 10-4 Brownsville Porter team that lost two of its last three. North’s road game will come against a Cowboy dynasty that has appeared in the regional quarterfinals three years running, after 2006’s state title. Econ ended fifth in the Valley top 10, with EHS No. 6 and North No. 7.
On the girls’ side, North came in second behind Harlingen South and will now take its 11-3 league mark into first-round action against a 10-4 Brownsville Rivera team it lost to 1-0 earlier in the year. At 9-5, the Lady Bobcats of EHS got a tough bi-district try down at Los Fresnos against the 32-5A champ Lady Falcons (13-1). In the season finale, Viri Torres scored to hand North a 2-1 win over rival EHS.
North was fifth in the final Top 10 poll with EHS at No. 10, the first time the city has had five units ranked in the top 10 in history.
A handful of veteran seniors were heading into their last stretch as high schoolers for each of the playoff teams. For the Jags, Abel Farias and Ivan Camarillo hoped to extend Econ’s run, while Destiny Rodriguez and Andrea “Red” Gonzalez were seeking another deep playoff jaunt for the Lady Coogs. Long-time EHS stalwarts Andrea Solis, Andrea Maldonado and Ana Lopez were all trying to keep their senior years going.
EHS coach Martin Gonzalez said that though his 4th-seed team was matched with a league champ, he thought that it had a good shot at the win.
“People will say that it is an upset if we win, but if we come out and take care of business, it wouldn’t be an upset to me,” he said. “I always think we can win every time we go out there.”
Meanwhile, Coach Danny Valdez of North also likes his team’s odds of advancing past bi-district, something the program has done three years in a row.
“I am not looking ahead, for sure,” he admitted. “But we have had a heckuva season so far. Coming in, I was worried about just making the playoffs, but we ended up finishing second.”
Although track teams were idle this week, they will compete at the Meet of Champs March 27. The North girls’ distance medley team will most likely be at the Texas Relays in early April after qualifying for that prestigious event. Relay members are Jenyse Vazquez, Ari Lumbreras, Kim Burgoa, and Sam Soria.
UTPA BASKETBALL DONE FOR YEAR
The hoops season wrapped up on a high note as both men’s and women’s teams at The University of Texas-Pan American advanced to the semi-finals of the Great West Conference Tourney before being eliminated.
The men finished just 6-27 overall but played top-seeded South Dakota close, losing by five at 76-71, getting 15 points from freshman Aaron Urbanus, who earlier was named to the conference All-Newcomer Team. Teammates Jared Maree, Nick Weiermiller, and Luis Valera were honorable mention GWC.
On the women’s side, the Lady Broncs won 13 games out of 30, failing to reach the program record for wins (14). They went out against Utah Valley State 72-56 in the semis, in somewhat of an upset, as freshman Valley product Bianca Torre scored 22 points to make the All-Tournament team.
For the year, Torre paced the Orange and Green with 13 ppg and also in steals and assists, claiming second-team All-GWC along with senior Aleeya Grigsby, who averaged 10.7 points and 8.4 rebounds. Torre was also tabbed Newcomer of the Year in the league. Senior Rose Esther Jean was named the conference Defensive Player of the Year after hauling down 6.8 boards a night and blocking 59 shots.
Edinburg High ex Marah Guzman fought her way into the starting lineup as a senior, and contributed 7.0 points per game and 99 assists, shooting 83 percent from the free-throw line.
NOTES: The Bronc baseball team took two of three from Iowa over the weekend and is now 9-5 for the year.
GIRLS’ HOOPS HONORS
Offensive Player of the Year
*Laura Torres, EHS
Defensive Player of the Year
*Brandy Garcia, North
31-5A FIRST TEAM
***Bianca Casas, EHS; Danielle Vargas, North; **Vicky Pena, North
Mariah Galvan, Econ; Anaka Garcia, EHS
Econ: Michelle Leija, Daniella Gaitan, Lory Martinez, Leigha Brown
EHS: Stephanie Nunez, Emma Lopez, Michellin Mercelita, Sharmee Tigner
North: Vianey Salinas, Essence Brown, Annie Badillo, Dora Ureste
* First team All-Valley
* Second team All-Valley
* Third team All-Valley
Note: North’s Jenny Gaytan was All-Valley Coach of the Year