Friday night soccer was wild as a Latin American revolution, with crazy fans, a handful of key injuries, and some amazing down-to-the-wire events on the field at Econ. Several points on the season curve revealed themselves, though the District 31-5A slate is less than one-third complete.
First, the Jags are for real, again. After a 3-2 overtime victory over EHS in the nightcap of a delirious doubleheader of thrills and chills, the Orange stood 4-0 in league play. They’d come from behind Tuesday at North to win, and withstood a last-minute equalizer Friday to get the OT win.
Second, the Lady Bobcats are very good, again, but their foe, a hard-luck 1-3 Lady Jag group, is also impressive. The teams battled to a scoreless tie as both defenses had tremendous efforts, but EHS took the shootout when Beckah Rodriguez and Gabby Rivas notched winners. Econ had had offensive trouble this season but the backline is hard to beat.
Third, the Jag boys were high as kites after the North victory, but they went into Tuesday’s match against perky Harlingen minus stars Abel Farias and Ivan Camarillo, who were red-carded in a controversial turn of events that had the home side hot under collar, to say the least.
Fourth, the EHS boys, like their female counterparts at Econ, are a deceiving 1-3 in district, having gotten numerous chances in an earlier loss to P-SJ-A without converting and then making a game charge against its rival Friday only to fall short.
And finally, back to the EHS girls, who face the possibility of advancing on the warpath without two veterans, Andrea Solis and Bianca Ramos. Both went down late in the game, Ramos after colliding with the keeper on a shootout try and Solis with a minutes left in regulation after a hard lick in the right corner.
Got all that? It was some kind of night over on the East Side, with a big rowdy crowd and plenty of great moments.
GIRLS’ GRUDGE MATCH
The Lady Jags were totally sharp in the first 20 minutes, getting a number of solid runs together but once again failing to score. The defense, led by bruising Nicole Wilke and sinewy Tasha Goyta, held the enemy in check, however, as they’ve done all year long.
With EHS all over leading scorer Dulce Torres, a freshman came to the dance with some nice tries; burly Savannah Castillo uses her body well and steps lightly for a solidly built player. As the Lady Jags forced, she was at the center of the action.
Solis made a couple of sweet dribble-and-send clears to keep the visitor out of trouble, and then she sent a long free kick to a goal catch at 17:58.
As tough as the Orange D was on Torres, the clamps on speedy and aggressive Alyssa Perez of EHS were just as effective in the opening half.
Tough Roxy Constantino continued the strong Econ D in the second half, and Wilke scored a couple of knockdowns on Perez, which is hard to do. Castillo fought through a wall to force a shot at 30:00 but after that, the Lady Jag attack cooled.
EHS produced the best attempt of the night when Perez centered one up high from the right, but Sam Almanza overran the looper at 28:00.
Four minutes on, Ramos popped a centering ball that Karen Alvarado could not locate and then Constantino stopped tall Barb Paiz on the drive. Paiz got close again at 14:08 to no scratch, and it the foul stench of overtime hung in the air. EHS attacked with a vengeance to several other almosts, but it ended scoreless.
Overtime was more of the same impenetrable stop-troop work, even though the Lady Jags brought Solis up to forward to try and break through. Castillo and Ashley Perez had shots for Econ, but nothing doing.
Perez got a few good looks in the second extra session, including a 40-yard bomb to a catch, but Goyta was incredible on defense for the homers, and shootout was the name of the game.
Paiz went wide left to start but Rodriguez came through with a fake-and-fire to give EHS the tie after Wilke had boomed the first Econ try home. Adriana Lopez of EHS made the key stop, rushing out to tie up Goyta on the third wave, and the Lady ‘Cats prevailed for a 4-0 start in 31-5A.
Senior star Idalia Ortiz of Econ admitted that the 1-3 start has been vexing for a team that truly believes it has what it takes to make the playoffs.
“It’s been frustrating, because in the four years I have been here, this is the best group of girls we’ve had,” the skilled and versatile vet said. “Our defense is really solid, I can say that because in the past I was always having to come back and help. But now, they don’t need any. We just have to start scoring and win some games next week.”
Recent history has been that Econ owns North but struggles with the Bobcats, and the past seven days gave a new but familiar chapter. The Jags had outlasted the Cougars Tuesday on an equalizer by the amazing “Robinjo,” Carlos Vazquez, and then a shootout win. Friday they had their hands full with EHS, needing an overtime goal to win the match.
Vazquez, an exciting and footloose senior who has been looked at by the program at Texas State, got on the board good and early, fighting his way past two men and punching one in at 35:42 of the first. The hits came quickly Friday and the Econ porre was so radical in support of the Jags that the officials had to warn Coach Sam Gonzalez that their exhortations were apparently over the top.
The Bobcats weathered the early storm and evened the tilt at 1-1 when smooth senior Jaime Juarez scored at 19:51 off a free kick. From there the fast-paced ‘Cats started to control the game with shots from Marco Cantu and another close one from Juarez.
Ivan Camarillo sent a slashing free kick to a catch at 14:20 and Roberto Soto, who had a nice week of work for the team, came up with a block on the defensive end.
It looked like a 1-all tie for halftime until football kicker Rogelio Ramirez exploited a defensive lapse deep left to slot the go-ahead point five minutes before intermission.
The gangly and swarthy Vazquez seems to get extra psyched for the start of halves, and he nearly provided a 2-goal lead with a shot at 36:30. Camarillo bicycled one past the bar minutes later as the Jags were in offensive mode early.
With three defenders surrounding him at all times, the dangerous Farias enjoyed few openings against his former school, but “Robinjo” threaded his way through five kids for a shot, barely missing.
Nine minutes in, Camarillo was kicked out for roughing a Bobcat in the zone, to the great dismay of the Orange side, which complained vociferously about what it interpreted as a severe imbalance in the number of foul calls in the game.
That left lanky Freddy Serrato to lead the defense, and he responded with a series of consistent clears against the rushes of Juarez and his cousin, Luis Hinojosa.
Upfield, Vazquez hammered a laser beam just wide and high at 19:40, and then inside of 10 to go, he played keepaway from the trailing ‘Cats with some truly ridiculous ball fakes and gyrations in the crowd. The kid is just gobs of fun to watch, and is a huge fan favorite; every time he goes into his act, looking like a Brazilian soon-to-be international star with his long-legged ball control tricks and knack for the flashy maneuver, the porre goes wild.
But just when it appeared to be over, Cantu emerged to fire just over the bar at 2:50. Hinojosa surged to a shot and Juarez was right there to snag the rebound and tie the game with just 54 seconds left, stunning the Jags. Jose “Yankee” Martinez of EHS tried to upstage the infamous “Robinjo” as overtime began and did a super job with his own “limp-leg and go” routine. One of his passes created a shot try from Cantu midway through.
But a handball violation was the ‘Cat undoing at 1:27 of the first extra session, as it created two opportunities. After a Farias try on the run left, Ramirez got his second goal of the night at 0:29 and the Jags defended well enough in the second extra 10 to take the game and remain unbeaten in league play. The only late downer was the red card on Farias, who was ticketed for intentionally kicking the ball at a defender.
NOTES: The Review has been through some adventures lately in terms of identifying people in photos. Last week’s sports section put Vivi Hernandez’s name on Gisela Ledezma’s soccer picture. We apologize for the misstep.
For an online exclusive story on Tuesday’s soccer, turn to the Review Web site at edinburgreview.com. There are also plenty of bonus photographs on the site.