When they’re good, they’re great. When not, eh…don’t ask. About Tuesday, go ahead and ask.
Following a weak performance against a crummy Harlingen team March 11, the North Cougars rebounded Tuesday with a pounding 5-2 win at home over Pharr North, as Alan Alfaro recorded a hat trick in the first half alone.
Tuesday was great. This one was over early, as the elusive Alfaro maneuvered after a pass from Alex Gutierrez to find the net just two minutes in. Those two played a deft game of pitch and catch in the first half, when North got four goals and blasted the Raiders all over the field.
The Coogs were smooth and easy in front and back, dominating the ball, attacking with precision and force in what was probably the best half of the year. What a contrast it was to Friday’s loss against a weak Harlingen club; North had to make up some ground after that shocker, and came out to bury Pharr North.
Alfaro fought well in the box midway through the half to create a loose ball, with an alert Gutierrez picking up to slot a lefty score at 18:18, after Josue Morales, forgotten somewhat among the galaxy of North stars but always a dangerous player, had gone just high at 21:05.
Next Alfaro, who can flow like water through multiple defenders, ran down a deep pass from Gutierrez on the right elbow, turned and fired: his ball went whizzing past the dizzy PN keeper for a 3-0 advantage at 16:10. It was a fine and difficult shot from Alfaro, who has enjoyed a tremendous season.
After the Raiders scratched at 10:01, on one of their first real attempts of the game, the home-side hit parade ended with Alfaro again doing the honors, this time with a header off Morales’ centering ball at the 8-minute mark.
Looking sharp as a team, getting excellent play from Cesar Barajas in the midfield and Gutierrez wherever he wound up, the Coogs washed the taste of the Cardinal loss out of their gullets.
NORTH GIRLS OUT OF THE RUNNING
Meanwhile, the girls picked the wrong time for a losing streak. North lost for the third straight game Tuesday, allowing a late goal in the second overtime to drop one to Pharr North, 1-0. With the defeat, the Lady Coogs faded from the playoff race.
They did poorly in general, with lapses in goal and on defense, and a failure to get into pass-run combinations very often at all. The loss came after the club had come up short against Harlingen and EHS in successive outings.
The Lady Raiders passed North into fourth place in the league with the victory, and after the Lady Coogs got blanked by Harlingen South Friday, it was all over. The team missed the postseason for only the second time in eight years.
Besides defender Emily Cardenas, who marshaled one of her best games of the season, and Alenna Cubriel, who played a gutty 80 minutes, it was supbar soccer all the way. Vivi Hernandez, in her second night back after a long absence due to injury, had some promising moments, but the offense was not clicking at all.
The Lady Raiders won more balls, advanced to several shots on goal, churning away until finally scratching for a goal at 7:15 of the second OT. Earlier, at the end of the first extra period, Viri Torres had a point-blank shot attempt but kicked right to the keeper.