The move from District 30-5A to 61-4A this year certainly seems to have agreed with the Eagles boys and girls soccer teams. After two years of competing against 5A powerhouses such as Sharyland and Donna for the Eagles and Sharyland and Nikki Rowe for the Lady Eagles, both Mission High teams have risen to the top of their respective 4A districts to claim both titles for the maroon and white.
Adding to their accomplishment this season is the Lady Eagles’ perfect 8-0 district record (19-1-1 overall). This is especially rewarding after having come off of back-to-back losing seasons in which Coach Aaron Clemons’ team failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Achieving such a dramatic turnaround in just one year and going undefeated is exactly what Clemons and his girls set out to do.
“At the beginning of the year I talked to the girls and I told them that we need to set some goals for the season,” said Clemons. “The first being to do what we could to win district but I told them that I expected them to go undefeated as well. We’ve had some tough games along the way but we’ve achieved that goal. Now we’ve set our sights on the regional tournament.
“I have seven seniors on my roster so I’m losing a good crop of players at the end of the season. This is a team that we’ve been building for several years and while we have high expectations every year, this year our expectations are especially high,” added Clemons.
With their regular season ended and their spot in the playoffs secured, all that remains is to wait and see who the Lady Eagles will open the post season against and where and when they will play.
“Since we have a bye in the bi-district round we will be opening the playoffs in the area round” explained Clemons. “We’re looking at playing the winner of Hidalgo vs La Feria or Lyford in the area round. They should be playing Tuesday. As for our game, we’re trying to get it scheduled for Thursday the 28th since the 29th is Good Friday. Whether we’ll be playing away or here at home will come down to a coin toss.”
As for Coach Christos Barouhas’ Eagles, their 8-2 record (20-5-2 overall) may not be perfect but it is certainly worthy of the top spot in the district, just points ahead of the Rio Grande City Rattlers, and it has also made it possible for the Mission boys to qualify for playoffs for the 18th time in the past 21 years.
“Over the 21 years that I’ve been the boys head soccer coach here at Mission, we’ve missed the playoffs three times,” shared Barouhas. “The last time we didn’t make it was in 2006. That makes this the seventh year in a row for us.”
Having just clinched the district title and closed out the regular season with a 13-0 win over Zapata, Barouhas is now working on getting his players ready for post season play.
“We’ll be playing the winner of Tuesday night’s Port Isabel vs Hidalgo bi-district game,” explained Barouhas. “We have a bye in bi-district so our first playoff game will be in the area round. The bye has to do with the way the brackets are set up and the fact that we’re supposed to be playing against a group that doesn’t exist right now.”
“Everybody is playing well,” added Barouhas. “Communication is the key this year. The kids communicate very well on and off the field. They talk to each other and they’re friends. We have one big group and it’s very seldom that that happens.”
Aldo Sanchez is one of the players that Barouhas will be counting on to help his team go deep into the playoffs. After having entered the Zapata game with fifteen goals scored, Sanchez added six more Tuesday night for a district high (and possibly Valley High) 21 points scored so far this season.
“Aldo is a senior,” said Barouhas. “He was the placekicker for the Eagles football team and he did well. For us technically he plays very well. He can hold the ball well, he can hit the ball well, he can sweep the ball well, he can distribute the ball well and he knows how to make himself available to receive the pass. He plays center forward but what makes him so successful is the fact that he doesn’t just stick to his center position, he moves around a lot and that confuses the other teams.”
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