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MISSION – Playing with half their bench, including a few JV players, Mission held off Sharyland on Tuesday to defeat the Rattlers 3-2, and claim their first District 30-5A victory over their archrival at Rattlers Stadium.
Due to a missed practice, several of Mission’s starters were benched for the game against Sharyland by Eagles head coach Christos Barouhas, including starting goalkeeper Erasmo Vásquez, who was substituted by Alvaro Gonzalez.
“Yesterday we had practice and seven of our guys didn’t show up, so I suspended everybody for the game today, including my starting goalkeeper,” Barouhas said. “I had a lot of subs and three JV kids I moved up, and they did a great job. They knew what was at stake, and we won the game. It was a dramatic game, Sharyland always gives us good games, but we picked it up, especially the kids that hadn’t played before.”
The disciplinary measure resulted in Mission’s first official district win against Sharyland since the Eagles moved up to 30-5A two years ago from Class 4A. Before Tuesday’s victory, the Rattlers narrowly defeated Mission in their previous three district meetings, dating back to February 2011; 4-3, 1-0, 1-0.
The victory improved Mission’s record to 8-4 with 21 points for fourth place in 30-5A, and with two games remaining in the season. The Eagles are behind La Joya (6-6, 22 points), who lost to McAllen 2-1 in shootouts on Tuesday after playing to a 1-all tie in regulation time.
Sharyland dropped to 9-3 with 27 points and second place behind Donna (10-2, 30). Despite the loss, the Rattlers clinched a playoff spot along with the district-leading Redskins.
With the first two postseason spots spoken for, Mission and La Joya are in a four-team fight with McAllen (6-6, 16) and La Joya Palmview (5-7, 16) for the remaining two tickets to the playoffs.
The Eagles can qualify with a win or shootout victory in their last two matches. La Joya only needs one point to qualify. However, a pair of losses for either team can jeopardize their chances of advancing to the postseason.
Coming off the bench, sophomore forward Mario Ledesma scored the game-winning goal for the Eagles with 8:48 remaining in the game on an individual play. Ledesma looped a pass to himself over a Sharyland defender to the left side of the box, then flicked his own pass to the far post over the reach of the Rattlers’ goalkeeper for the winning score.
“It was the excitement, the energy to score the goal came from my heart,” Ledesma said. “My teammates really supported me. I came off the bench confident that I was going to help my team come out ahead. We all played well, and as a team.”
Cesar Ibanez opened the scoring in the 20th minute and Martin Torres added a second score in the first 55 seconds of the second half to give Mission a 2-0 lead.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Eagles fell victim to the old adage that says a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous in soccer. Sharyland’s Daniel Garcia pushed in a loose ball in the box that started out as a throw-in from defender Gilberto “Tito” Alanis at the 29:24 mark.
A foul on Rattler midfielder Jesus Olivares resulted in an indirect kick for Sharyland. Alanis took the shot and Rey Garcia came up with the equalizer on the set piece with 25:33 left to play in the game.
Ed Salas writes for RGVFutbol.com. For soccer stats and more stories on teams from around the Valley, visit www.rgvfutbol.com.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.