Each game last week was a must-win situation for the Edinburg Lady Bobcats, and each night they came up with the right magic to get the job finished. Now 7-4 in District 31-5A with 20 points, defeated North 2-1 Tuesday and finished Rivalry Week with a 1-0 last-second victory over Econ.
Friday’s game was a regular slugfest, with the Lady Jags holding firm on defense despite having been eliminated from the playoff hunt. After the boys had played a scoreless tie that went to shootout and sudden death, the girls threatened to have a goalless night until six seconds remained in the second OT.
Then, Diana Covarrubias punched in a short shot after a long centering pass went past goal left and back into the middle. The Lady Bobcats exploded with relief after the thrilling bang-bang finish.
“This is as good as it gets, I guess,” smiled Coach Martin Gonzalez. “You have to give them (Lady Jags) credit because they fought us all night long. But we kept pushing and finally got one.”
Econ had dominated the second half, keeping the ball in the enemy zone but failing to break through. In the first overtime, however, EHS surged, with five shot attempts, and almost scratched late. But a great defensive save by the Lady Jags turned away the chance.
The Lady ‘Cats had two prime opportunities late in regulation with Karen Rodriguez leading the way. But Nicole Wilke’s rugged defense was equal to the task. For EHS, sub Alicia Guerrero played solid minutes as the team went without injured Emily Infante and absent Amy Avila.
Econ’s Savannah Martinez made a number of promising runs in the second half, but Bri Detwiler in goal did a nice job of stopping the momentum.
EHS 2, NORTH 1
With the city rivals battling for playoff footing Tuesday, it was a stalemate through one half until the combination of Cobarruvias and Leslie Alvarez clicked for two goals after the break. North made a late rush to get back into it but some timely defensive work from the Lady Bobcats sealed the deal.
With the result, the city girls were tied with 6-4 records and 17 points, with North heading into the toughest section of its schedule and EHS getting a relatively easier road. Both are chasing Harlingen South and Harlingen with two weeks left in the regular season.
The first time these two had met, EHS won 2-1 in a Wind Game, holding the Lady Coogs to just one goal with the strong breeze at the North back. This time, no weather conditions to speak of, just two evenly matched units slugging it out for 80 minutes.
The Lady ‘Cats put more pressure on than North in the first but could not capitalize and Lady Coog Coach Danny Valdez later said that at that point, he knew his team was in trouble.
“We didn’t win balls, we didn’t pass in combinations, and I was afraid that we would come out slow,” Valdez said. “We have been playing well but a team can never sustain that through every game.”
It didn’t take long for Edinburg to assert its energy again after the intermission, with Cobarruvia running long right and forcing the action. She sent one into the middle and Alvarez streaked in on the run and nicked the ball into the net at 25:42. After Viri Torres and Jamie Torres of North each had a quick shot, some of the first legitimate attempts of the game by a sluggish North group, EHS got another.
On roughly the same play set-up as the first goal, Cobarruvias sped past a tardy Lady Coog defensive deep right and centered again; this time, Alvarez whipped inside to head the pass to the cords for a 2-0 advantage at 20:46.
Feeling the sense of urgency, North rallied quickly with Alyssa Salinas, a prominent contributor now in her initial season on varsity, banging in a backside goal off a corner kick at 18:32.
From there, the Lady Coogs came on strong, getting five solid tries down the stretch. But defender Bri Sanchez, enjoying one of her best nights of the year, led the defensive charge with a number of smart step-ins to thwart the comeback. She kept an eye on the high-scoring Torres with plenty of help from the gutty Infante, who made several outstanding clears before leaving with an injury in the second half.
“This was a nerve-wracking game,” admitted Sanchez, a steady defender who also handles the team’s free kicks. “We had to work hard to do it, but we did it. There was a lot of pressure on us, but…we’re Bobcats, we got this thing!”
Gonzalez was pleased with the effort his girls gave, telling them afterward that they now control their own destiny and can make the postseason if they just keep up the good work.
Both Gonzalez and Sanchez praised the work of fill-in goalkeeper Adrianita Salas, up from the junior varsity. She made a couple of nice catches up high to stop free-kick bombs from North’s strong-legged Aleena Cubriel, and generally made a solid account of herself.
As for his awesome newcomer pair of Alvarez and Cobarruvias, Gonzalez noted that everyone knew from the first moment they stepped onto the pitch, it was going to be good.
“Diana is a very fine individual talent, and Leslie, she is a great team player who hustles and really knows how to play,” he said. “They know what to do out there, and we are getting contributions from everyone.”