On a night when the weather grew progressively worse, soccer’s Rivalry Week got off to a brisk start with two fine matches Tuesday. It was North-Economedes to be followed by Econ-EHS Friday.
The North girls took out Econ 1-0 at home on Viri Torres’ second-half score at 31:18. She chased down a long thru ball, elbowed past the last defender and popped one home, after the Lady Jags had made a solid showing on defense in a scoreless first half.
Backliners Nicole Wilke and Tosha Goyta knocked the Lady Coogs off stride well in the half, but the North defense paced by “Red” Gonzalez was just as stingy, holding scoring ace Dulce Torres out of the zone for long stretches.
After Torres of North notched what would be the game’s only goal, Econ (1-2 in district) came on, with youngster Dulce Loera providing some close rushes to the goal. But the Lady Coogs held, and improved to 2-1 for the district season.
Despite the 1-2 start in 31-5A the Lady Jags showed they have a stout team this season; before the 1-0 loss to North they’d limited daunting Harlingen South to two goals in a 2-0 defeat.
The rain started falling in steady drizzling fashion for the boys’ game, and by halftime the field was in bad shape. But by that time, each team had enjoyed offensive highlights in a physical game that would see Alan Alfaro of North leave the pitch with a probable concussion. Three-time defending champ Econ outlasted its foe, taking a 2-2 tie into shootout mode and winning there to go to 3-0 on the season; North dropped to 2-1,
Super soph Alex Gutierrez got the Coogs off fast with a penalty-kick goal two minutes into the night for a 1-0 lead.
But the Jags, working well off set pieces, evened the count with a header by Jesse Cadena off a long throw soon after. The Coogs took the lead back at the 20-minute mark when Josue Morales completed a terrific 40-yard free kick that bounded off the left post and past the keeper.
Despite some super runs from speedy and durable senior Abel Farias, the Jags seemed doomed to their first loss to North in five years. But with a 2-1 lead, North lost the magic with Alfaro out, as Cesar Barajas came up top from the midfield; the team could not control well enough in back to get him and Gutierrez the ball in rhythm.
The hero for the Jags was Carlos “Rodinjo” Vazquez, who was knocked from the game in the collision with Alfaro but returned at the 10-minute mark of the second half. He’s all elbows and knees out there, a lanky and spirited chap who makes things happen. With 7:03 left he sneaked inside off a throw and converted for the equalizer, sending the game to overtime.
Neither team managed a scratch in 20 minutes of extra play, as the field became a quagmire and players slipped and slid their way through. Farias controlled beautifully down deep with an on-the-run header pass to himself in traffic in the first period, but could not finish.
Barajas, held in check for most of the night, boomed one just high and wide from the left at 3:42 for North.
In the second OT, Econ’s Ivan “Tio” Camarillo, who had a great night on defense, came up to take a couple of excellent shots to no avail, with teammate Roberto Soto making some sharp passes and defensive plays.
It was shootout time and the muddied, weary teams gathered at the south end to settle affairs. “Rodinjo” started the final session off with a scoring shot, and goalkeeper Luis Gonzalez of the Jags then stopped four straight. As Econ had not managed a second point off North’s Erick Alaniz up to the fifth line of shooters, it was up to Camarillo, who advanced through the slop to send one past Alaniz left, ending the marathon effort and receiving a giant bear hug from his jubilant mates.
Econ then looked forward to a home game Friday against an EHS team that has always played the Jags well, and is much improved in 2010.