Big 7 boys’ soccer playoffs outlook
RGV soccer is a gauntlet. Every week, twice a week schools are facing some of the best high school soccer in the state. Teams are sharpened game after game by strong competition and for the first few weeks of postseason action as they fight and claw to be the final Valley team standing. Juarez-Lincoln is the lone district champion among the Big 7 boys teams but that doesn’t mean the Huskies are the only strong representatives looking for a long playoff run.
Juarez-Lincoln vs. Los Fresnos
Thursday, March 24, 7 p.m. at Los Fresnos High School
First place, District 31-6A
Juarez-Lincoln is a team to watch once again. Even though the crew of the ship has changed, head coach Victor Ramos has remained the skipper of one of the most consistent soccer programs in the Rio Grande Valley. The Huskies earned their sixth consecutive district championship and are looking to make another long playoff run. And that is what fans have come to expect from Huskies teams.
This season’s Huskies are younger than normal but still only dropped two games in district play, including one first round loss to Big 7 foe Mission.
As a team, the Huskies were the top goal scorers in District 31-6A. Fernando Ortuno leads the way with 16 goals in 12 district games. A dominant possession game is exactly what Juarez-Lincoln will be looking for and they have the personnel to do it.
Due to a coin flip, the Huskies will take their show on the road against the fourth place Los Fresnos Falcons who stood tall in a very difficult District 32-6A. While the Huskies are heavily favored, Ramos will make sure his team does not overlook any opponent.
Palmview vs. Corpus Christi Ray
Friday, March 25, 7 p.m. at Palmview High School
Second place, District 30-5A
Palmview is excited to be in the position it’s in. Coach Juan Hernandez has the team playing as an unselfish unit at the right time. According to Hernandez, playing with intention and determination will be important to give the group a chance against Corpus Christi Ray, who has only lost once in its last five matches.
Lobos’ goalkeeper Ruben Martinez will be a key figure in Friday’s matchup. He has started on varsity since his freshman year, including when the Lobos upset Brownsville Porter in Bi-district four seasons ago. Coach Hernandez calls him one of the hardest working kids he’s worked with during his time in athletics. Hernandez said his team is excited and hopeful for a strong showing at home tonight against Corpus Christi Ray.
Brownsville Hanna vs. Mission High
Friday, March 25, 6 p.m. at Weslaco East
Fourth place, District 31-6A
Mission Eagles head soccer coach Christos Barahous has a very capable group on the field. If the Eagles play to their ability, Mission could go on a strong run. In February they defeated Juarez-Lincoln on the road, ending a long Huskies winning streak. The opposition in Brownsville Hanna won’t be easy but nothing comes easy when competing in winner-take-all matches. Hanna had to fight hard all season and earned the district title on the final match day.
Barahous’ team has shown glimpses of being one of the best in the area. He knows that if the best version of the Eagles comes to play, they could pull off the upset against Weslaco East tonight. He points toward communication, limiting mistakes and capitalizing on all scoring chances as the keys to unlocking an area appearance. Mission will embrace the role of underdogs like they have all season.
Brownsville Lopez vs. Sharyland High
Friday, March 25th, 6 p.m. at Sharyland HS
Second place, District 31-5A
The Sharyland Rattlers find themselves in a familiar position in their head coach’s inaugural season on the job; in the postseason and with a first round matchup against solid competition from the lower Valley.
Coach Jorge Guerra has hit the ground running with this group of Rattlers who finished in second place behind Valley View. Brownsville Lopez will be a tall order for Sharyland but the Rattlers are ranked higher and will have the benefit of playing in front of the home crowd tonight.
Guerra says that success will come from a quick pace of play coupled with efficient passing which is the formula that has worked all season.
Lopez boasts two players in the Valley’s top scorers. The Rattlers will need to slow down and contain Aaron Martinez (14 goals) and Juan Jaramillo (12 goals) if they are to advance into the Area round of the UIL state playoffs.
Note: The result of last night’s Juarez-Lincoln vs Los Fresnos game was not available at press time.