Rattlers send off to state
On Wednesday morning, the students, staff, and parents of Sharyland High School gathered with posters and signs to send off their state tournament-bound boys’ soccer team. The Rattlers took photos and were serenaded by the high school Mariachi group as they were given one last show of support from the Sharyland ISD community. The team is making the five-hour trip to Georgetown, the city where they will play their state semi-final game Thursday.
“We just feel very, very fortunate to have (this) opportunity,” head coach Jorge Guerra said “It’s great, so we’re just excited to go and hopefully bring home that first place (trophy).”
The Sharyland boys’ soccer team has become the only 5A team from the Rio Grande Valley to make state this year. They have outlasted other talented teams such as the McAllen Bulldogs, the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies, and the Brownsville Lopez Lobos. The Rattlers themselves took down the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers, and the Brownsville Porter Cowboys, along with schools that traveled from out of the region, those being the Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial Eagles and the Leander Rouse Raiders.
The Raiders were the last team to fall to the Rattlers in an intense game that was played at the Brownsville Sports Park last Saturday. The final score was 2-1. For the first half of the game, neither team was able to score and it was the Raiders’ Brendon Fournier who made the first goal with only 24:53 left on the clock.
For the Rattlers to have a chance to win they would need to play about as perfect a game as one could play with only about 25 minutes remaining. The fans watched as the Rattlers were able to pull this off. Juan Trevino (#10) scored with 19:58 left on the clock and at 8:36 Iker Urueta (#9) scored the final goal of the game. Of course, while these players made the goals, it should not be discounted that the entire team made sure to keep the ball near the soccer net for these two goals. Teamwork also came into play with the final eight and a half minutes of the game, as the entire Rattlers team fought to make sure that the Raiders did not get a ball into the net and take this match into overtime.
With only a few seconds left on the clock, the Rattlers moved the ball to the middle of the field in a play that ended any sense of competition. After doing so, the buzzer sounded as the Rattlers ran to the stands where their families and friends were cheering and clapping. From there the Rattlers took photos, had interviews, and spent the next twenty minutes celebrating on the Brownsville Sports Park field. They were headed to state.
We are now a few days out from that victory, and Coach Guerra spoke regarding what the team had been doing in the interim.
“(Everyone’s) been resting,” he said. “Working to get our legs back, a lot of the kids were very, very tired. I mean it was a physical game, very demanding, but I think the guys have worked fine to be prepared and hopefully, by tomorrow we’re one hundred percent.”
Being at one hundred percent is absolutely necessary for the Rattlers to have a chance at their next round of competition. They are going to be facing the El Paso Bel-Air Highlanders. The Highlanders are hoping to repeat having won the state championship trophy in 2019 and they have good reason to be optimistic. The team has a 27-0-1 record, spread across pre-season, district season, and playoffs.
Of course, bringing home a second state championship trophy after having gone 10 years without one is also a goal for Sharyland. The team won the title in 2012. While most of the students are a bit too young to have remembered this occurring, Guerra’s whole career had interesting parallels to this year. He had been coached by former head coach Reveriano “Rev” Hernandez when he was a student at Sharyland High School. Hernandez was the head coach when Sharyland won state. Guerra was also brought onto the staff the summer after this victory occurred. He talked about the first few months after the team won that title.
“Everything that was talked about would be state, state, state,” he said. “I wasn’t part of it, so I always thought that I would one day get the opportunity, (and) here we are. So I’m just excited that we’re there and just ready to compete.”
Coach Guerra started his career as a rookie coach coming in after a monumental season for the Sharyland soccer team. Now, a decade later, he is the head coach during another historic season for the Rattlers. Yet, it is not as if Sharyland spent that decade as an afterthought. For a solid decade the team has been pretty consistent in finishing first or second in their district and you could usually rely on them to make it through the first or second round of playoffs. They had never been widely considered a lock to make state however. Guerra talked about why he felt this year had been different.
“It’s a senior stacked group,” he said. “They’ve been working for a few years. A lot of the kids, of course, went through our (junior varsity) levels. We have a few guys who are four year lettermen. More than anything it’s just the experience of the guys. Some of these guys have over twelve games of playoffs already in their high school career. So they know a little bit of what it means to be there and how to handle themselves. So that’s one of the keys to our success.”
Guerra hopes this success will keep them going, but the support that the team was shown as they headed off to state told the team that even if they got eliminated at this point in the competition, the community of Sharyland would still be proud of their team and the hard work, dedication, and effort they had put into this year.
If the Rattlers win/won their state semifinal round game against the Highlanders Thursday in Georgetown, they will play in the state championship game against the winner of the game between the Pflugerville Cougars and Frisco Lone Star Rangers. That game is scheduled to be played Saturday at 1 p.m., also in Georgetown.