By: Juan “Tony” Villarreal
Today, at Brownsville Sports Park in the UIL Region IV Finals, the Sharyland Rattlers defeated the Leander Rouse Raiders by a score of 2-1. With this victory, the Rattlers are going to the UIL 5A boys’ soccer state tournament.
“I’m extremely proud of (the boys),” head coach Jorge Guerra said. “Everything that was asked of them they executed to perfection. I am just very proud because it shows they are humble. They listen to what their coaches are asking of them.”
Yesterday, both the Sharyland Rattlers and the Leander Rouse Raiders had fought in the Elite Eight tournament and both teams came out on top. The Rattlers defeated the San Antonio Southwest Dragons with a final score of 2-0. Just a few hours later, at the same location, the Raiders beat the only other Rio Grande Valley team left in the tournament, the Brownsville Lopez Lobos. This final score was 5-2.
For both teams, this was the second game of soccer played within 24 hours, yet they showed no signs of weariness or fatigue. They played a spectacularly energetic game as they raced across one side of the field to the other.
No team scored during the first half of the game and as the half went on it was easy to see both teams get a bit more physical with each other and make a few risky moves, none of which paid off.
Yet even in this first scoreless half, it was easy to see that the Rattlers were playing the stronger game. They were able to keep the ball pretty contained to one half of the field and they made more shots that could have been goals had it been just a few inches in another direction.
When halftime came around it was clear that the Rattlers had a strong chance, but soccer is a tricky game. Sharyland can get as many near goals as it can, but if the Raiders got one good play, they could win. That looked to be the case when the second half was underway and the Raiders’ Brendon Fournier (#17) scored their first goal with just 24:53 remaining on the clock.
Yet, the Rattlers persisted. They had already been playing a good game, but this goal from the Raiders seemed to be a wake-up call that playing a good game is sometimes not enough. You need to be playing to win and as soon as that message came across, the Rattlers started scoring.
At the 19:58 mark, the Rattlers’ Juan Trevino (#10) scored the first goal for the Rattlers. From here both teams started to get a little antsy as they tried to stop the game from going into overtime. But playing under pressure is one of the Rattlers’ stronger talents. At 8:36 Iker Urueta (#9) scored the second goal for the Rattlers. The rest of the game was spent with the ball bouncing between both sides of the field, but not getting through any goal. When the final buzzer went off, it was the Rattlers and their fans, friends, and family who were cheering and screaming for their team.
The Rattlers have always been a good team, but this victory proved that they are one of the best. This is not only for the Rio Grande Valley, of which they are the only team in 5A remaining but in the state of Texas. Now they have a chance to prove that they are the best. Coach Guerra talked about their plans for the days between now and the next round of competition.
“We need a lot of rest,” Coach Guerra said. “The guys are beat up from yesterday and today, and then after that is just (getting) our legs back, making sure (we’re) well physically and then drive up there and enjoy the ride.”
On Thursday, the first round of the UIL state tournament will be held in Georgetown’s Birkelbach Field. The team they will be facing and the time of this match are not available as of press time. Should the Rattlers win, they will play in the state championship game next Saturday, April 15, also at Birkelbach Field.