Surprise! That’s what the La Joya Juarez-Lincoln (LJJL) Huskies boys soccer team did to their District 30-5A opponents last year. They caught them by surprise. They not only compiled an impressive 15-1 record in their inaugural 5A season, but won the championship in a district that included the defending state champion Sharyland Rattlers. While achieving so much success so quickly may have left some wondering if their 2013 season was a fluke, their continued success this season has proven that the Huskies are indeed for real.
Currently at 12-2 and in sole possession of first place with 35 points, Juarez-Lincoln has a rather comfortable seven point lead in the standings over second place Palmview, and an eight point lead over third place Sharyland. However, since the Huskies have played one more game thus far this season than Palmview and Sharyland have, their lead over one of those teams will be reduced tonight as the Lobos and the Rattlers face off against each other while the Huskies are off.
As the Huskies’ and the district’s top scorer, senior Angel Quintero is one of the reasons behind Juarez-Lincoln’s success. Quintero believes he knows why his Huskies have managed to continue their winning ways despite that they are now in one of the toughest districts in the state.
“We’ve been able to win because we work hard,” said Quintero. “We sacrifice a lot of what would be time off, for soccer. While we also sacrifice time with our families for soccer, in a way we’re doing it for them.”
Having defeated the Rattlers three out of the four times they’ve played since the state championship, LJJL has proven that they can play with anybody. As a result, Quintero believes the Huskies have what it takes to bring another state championship to the Valley.
“We’re all committed to this soccer team,” explained Quintero. “By pulling together as a team we are making positive things happen. We have what it takes to make it all the way this year. It’s a matter of us working and playing together as a team and as a family.”
Like Quintero, senior Juarez-Lincoln goalkeeper Rudy Flores is not at all surprised by his team’s success. Also like Quintero, Flores believes that no goal is too lofty for his squad.
“We have a really good team and a really good coach,” said Flores. “He motivates us every day to do our best. Personally, I am hoping to earn a scholarship this year, but I really want to help the team win state.”
Juarez-Lincoln head coach Victor Ramos is not surprised that the Huskies have continued their winning ways, despite last year’s jump to 5A.
“We have a good program that’s been winning consistently for several years,” shared Ramos. “We won district championships in 4A, so we were ready to move up to 5A. I believe that now we’ve proven that our recent success is not a fluke.”
Last year, the Huskies’ playoff run came to an end in the state quarterfinals against the eventual state runner-ups Brownsville Hanna. While Ramos may have his sites set on loftier goals, for now he is keeping his eyes on a more immediate prize.
“Our immediate goal is to have back-to-back championships,” said Ramos. “We know that is very, very hard to do – especially since we are in one of the toughest districts in the Valley and in the state. We have a five-point lead with two games to go, so it’s up to us to do what it takes.”
With outright victories being worth three points in the standings, all the Huskies have to do to clinch another district title is win one of their remaining two games – either against the Edinburg Bobcats Monday or the Donna Redskins next Friday. Then Ramos and his boys will be able to focus on continuing their winning ways in the playoffs and possibly be the next team to bring a state championship to the Valley.