At Bill Pate Stadium in Hidalgo last Thursday night Aldo Sanchez did what he’s done best all season long and he did it three times. As District 61-4A’s top scorer, Sanchez scored all of Mission’s goals in their 3-0 area round playoff victory against Hidalgo. The win has the Eagles going up against an undefeated and state-ranked Valley View Tigers team in the sectional round of the state playoffs at Tom Landry Stadium. The game is scheduled to kick off tonight at 8 p.m.
When asked about going up against a team that is ranked among the top 10 in the state and the top 50 in the country by the Elite Soccer Report, Mission coach Christos Barouhas explained how he’s planning on using the Tigers’ rankings to his team’s advantage.
“If somebody is ranked #8 in the state and #38 in the country, even if that website or publication may be exaggerating a little bit, somebody thinks they’re pretty good,” said Barouhas. “Due to the fact that Valley View is ranked so high, their goal is to win state. My goal for our team was to win district and then to win area, which we have now accomplished. Therefore, I consider whatever we win from here on out to be a bonus and that puts the pressure on them and not on us.”
Against the Pirates last week, Mission’s first goal came 73 minutes into a game that was starting to look as if it might go scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation play. Then just one minute later, Sanchez scored his second goal of the game on a penalty kick into the left corner of the net just past the outstretched hands of a diving Pirates’ keeper. Then with 3:50 left on the clock, Sanchez stuck a fork into a Hidalgo team that left their goal unattended in a desperation move to put points on the board when he scored goal number three.
Barouhas attributed his team’s inability to score until late in the game last week to the Pirates’ defensive strategy; a strategy he does not expect from the Tigers tonight.
“Against Hidalgo we dominated possession of the ball because that’s my first priority,” explained Barouhas. “The fact though that Hidalgo was playing with eight players behind the ball made it very difficult to break them. We had two shots that hit the cross bar, Aldo had a good shot that went just a little bit wide and we had seven corner kicks. That tells you that we controlled the game.”
“Once we scored our first goal I knew that Hidalgo was going to have to open up,” added Barouhas. “And that is exactly what happened even though it happened late. With Valley View that is not going to be the case. They’re not going to have eight people behind the ball. They’re going to play their game which means that their defense is going to be set up in such a way as to give our forwards opportunities to get in.”
While there is a lot at stake in every playoff game, Mission’s head coach believes that there is much more at stake in tonight’s match-up than a sectional championship.
“This is the big game,” shared Barouhas. “I’ve checked on most of the 4A teams from San Antonio and they don’t have the teams to beat us. That means that whoever wins this game has a great chance of going all the way to state.”
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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.