Just one more win. That’s all the Mission High Lady Eagles need to clinch the District 61-4A soccer title for the second year in a row. And with their season finale being on the road against the last place Lady (RGC) Rattlers tonight, Coach Aaron Clemons’ squad could be celebrating back-to-back district championships all the way home from Rio Grande City.
With four of the five District 61-4A teams qualifying for the playoffs, doing so is not all that much of an accomplishment. However, winning the district title is always something to take pride in and after having lost many of last year’s key players to graduation, another district title this year would be especially gratifying for Clemons.
“We lost seven starters last year,” explained Clemons. “I’m really pleased with the way the girls came out this year after having to replace so many girls. They’ve gone out and played awesome. We’re still a very young team but I feel that once we get onto the field we can play against anybody. We’ve done well against the La Joya teams and we even beat McAllen High last year, which is something that we hadn’t done before. So we finally got that monkey off our backs.”
Having gone undefeated in district play last year and having lost only one game so far this year, Clemons is optimistic about his young team’s prospects.
“So far this year we haven’t been beaten on the field by anybody,” said Clemons. “We’ve only been beaten with PKs (penalty kicks). We’ve beaten some really good teams including Juarez-Lincoln earlier in the season. I think that’s a really good sign with these girls coming up. I’m not absolutely certain but I believe that the last time we had back-to-back district championships here at Mission was during the 2007-2008 seasons.”
While the Lady Eagles (18 points) have only one game left on their district schedule, the other four teams in 61-4A still have two games left. As a result, it is possible for either Roma (12 points) and/or Veterans Memorial (12 points) to tie Mission for the title. However for that to happen Mission will have to lose to Rio Grande outright tonight (not by PKs) and either Roma or Veterans Memorial will have to win both their remaining games outright as well. While those scenarios are possible, the odds are in favor of the Lady Eagles either claiming sole possession of the title tonight or after Roma and Veterans Memorial play their final games of the season March 18.
In just her first year on the Lady Eagles’ team, senior sweeper Gabby Gonzalez is excited about how the season has gone so far and is looking forward to post-season play.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” said Gonzalez. “I love how close-knit we are and how hard we try. That’s what it’s all about – striving to make it into the playoffs. And I’m really excited about getting to go.”
Senior fullback Valerie Castillo is in her fourth year on the Mission varsity squad. While she is proud of what she and her teammates accomplished last year, Castillo is out to prove that this year’s version of the Lady Eagles is just as good if not better than last year’s.
“I’m looking forward to the playoffs because I want to show everybody that even though we lost a lot of girls last year, we’re still as good as we were last year,” said Castillo. “Hopefully we’re going to go even further than we did last year.”
Whether Mission makes the playoffs as outright district champs or not, the Lady Eagles won’t be playing their first playoff game until the area round March 29. That means a three week break after tonight’s game.