With nine of the 12 Big 6 schools’ soccer teams qualifying for the post season, Mission, La Joya and Sharyland high schools were certainly well represented in the state playoffs. Both of the Sharyland, Mission High School, Veterans Memorial and Juarez-Lincoln teams extended their seasons into the playoffs this year as did the Palmview High School (PHS) boys’ team.
Of those teams, all but the Juarez-Lincoln girls and the Veterans Memorial (VMHS) boys teams emerged victorious from their first or second round playoff games and will be playing in either the 5A area or the 4A sectional round this week.
Last Thursday night, the Sharyland (SHS) girls defeated Laredo LBJ, 5-0, and the boys defeated LBJ, 1-0, to advance to the area round. In Friday’s 5A bi-district action the Juarez-Lincoln boys defeated Laredo Alexander, 7-2, and the PHS boys defeated Del Rio, 2-1, to both advance to the area round as well.
In 4A area round action the Mission High School (MHS) girls defeated PSJA SW, 6-1, the MHS boys defeated Mercedes, 1-0, and the VMHS girls defeated La Feria, 3-1, to advance to the sectional round of the playoffs.
In this his first year as the VMHS girls soccer head coach, Mike Espinoza was an assistant under Coach Mireles last year when the Lady Patriots lost to the Mercedes Lady Tigers in the area round of the playoffs by a score of 1-0. Not wanting to have his squad suffer the same fate, Espinoza did his best to make sure that his girls would not be overlooking La Feria.
“We beat La Feria during our pre-season tournament but I told our girls that a lot can happen during the season so not to expect the same team to show up,” shared Espinoza. “I told them that if they were going to win they would have to come out strong and they did. We scored within the first 15 minutes and we went up by a score of 3-0 at the half.”
“Even though we were ahead 3-0, I told the girls at halftime that if they were to let up even a little bit La Feria would come back,” added Espinoza. “Sure enough in the second half, La Feria came out strong and they quickly scored a goal, which made the game intense. However, we held on the rest of the way to win 3-1.”
VMHS forward Amanda Lozano scored two of the Lady Patriots’ three goals against La Feria to help seal the victory. A sophomore, Lozano is the Lady Patriots’ top scorer this season with eight goals.
Regarding Veterans’ next opponent, Edcouch-Elsa, in tonight’s sectional round game Lozano said, “I expect it to be a very good game. It’s going to be a hard-fought game because they’re coming to beat us and we’ll be out to beat them. The fact that it’s the third round of the playoffs will only make it that much more intense.”
Unlike Lozano, who as a forward is an offensive weapon for VMHS, Bianca Rodriguez’s position of sweeper makes her the last line of defense before the ball gets to the goalkeeper. She will be counted on to help keep the Lady Yellow Jackets off the scoreboard during tonight’s game at Tom Landry Stadium.
“They’re a tough team but they’re not unbeatable,” said Rodriguez. “Right now we’re just focusing on doing the best we can and getting as far as we can in the playoffs.”
In what could very well be the last sporting events played on natural grass at Tom Landry Stadium, tonight’s VMHS vs Edcouch-Elsa girls soccer game at 6 p.m. will be the first half of a doubleheader with the Mission Lady Eagles vs Donna North Lady Chiefs game at 8 p.m. being the second.
See the Prep Schedule for the other Big 6 soccer playoff games set for Friday.