Sharyland soccer defeated at State
Rattlers fall to undefeated El Paso Bel-Air
Yesterday afternoon, at the UIL State Soccer Semi-finals, held at Georgetown’s Brickelbach stadium, the Sharyland Rattlers were defeated by the Bel-Air Highlanders by a final score of 4-1. This puts an end to an outstandingly successful season, and a great playoff run, for the team.
“At this level, the teams are all very competitive,” Sharyland head coach Jorge Guerra said. “Hats off to El Paso Bel-Air, they have a very good team. You know they gave us their best game. Unfortunately, we couldn’t adjust to the game that they were giving us.”
The game started strong for the Rattlers as Jose Sanchez (#23) made a penalty kick within the first couple minutes of play and instantly put the Rattlers on the board with 38:55 left in the first half. The Highlanders were determined to tie this game and they achieved that goal when Ruben Esparza (#10) scored for the Highlander’s at the 33:42 mark.
The score may have been tied, but anybody watching could see that tying up the score was the momentum-building moment that the Highlanders needed, and with 12:15 remaining in the first half, Dilan Cazares (#30) gave Bel-Air their first lead of the game at 2-1.
When play resumed, the Rattlers found themselves still having to play defense. While they fought to try to execute ways to get the ball away from the Highlanders, the Highlanders were able to undercut those tactics and the Rattlers were just never really able to make a solid play that would get them a goal.
While getting past Sharyland was not easy for the Highlanders, they were able to get the ball through the net. Oscar Ibarra (#16) brought the score to 3-1 with 26:18 left in the game. The hope for Sharyland to make any type of gaming-winning comeback died when Bel-Air’s Ruben Esparza (#10) made the last goal of the game with just 15:30 left on the clock.
The 4-1 final score of this game is the real disappointment, as it would seem to suggest that the Rattlers played a poor match. Watching the game however, it was easy to see that the Rattlers are a talented team who were making good strategic decisions. However, the Highlanders took any potential opportunity that was given to them and they took any weaknesses in the Rattlers’ play and used it to their advantage.
The Rattlers played a good game, but the Highlanders played a strong offense and they had the momentum they needed to propel them to the state championship round on Saturday.
While the Rattlers are not enthusiastic about this loss, they are aware that they put together a great season. Coach Guerra himself spoke about how it was a little bit silly for the Rattlers to be having any type of pity party for themselves. The team is one of the four best 5A teams in the entire state of Texas. They’re the only 5A team from the Rio Grande Valley region and one of two from any high school in the area overall. This team will also go down in Sharyland High School history as the one who gave Sharyland High School its first state appearance in over a decade and the second state appearance the school has ever had in its entire history.
“It’s still a heck of a season,” Coach Guerra said. “They’re slowly just releasing everything that they did. They were very disappointed in the loss, but in looking at the big picture the guys had a heck of a season. A great effort in the game and we just go home with our heads held high.”
“It’s mixed emotions,” he added. “This was one of our goals at the beginning of the season to get to this spot. (Luckily ) we got here and it’s unfortunate with the end result, but very happy that we met our goals from the beginning of the season which was to reach the state tournament.”
It is worth looking back briefly on the season Sharyland has had. They came into district playoffs from a three-way tie with the McAllen Bulldogs and the Valley View Tigers. The team then had two blowout victories against the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers, which ended with a 5-0 score, and the Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial Eagles, which ended with a score of 4-0.
The team then traveled to Brownsville Sports Park where they played the next three rounds of competition. None of these matches were blowouts, but the Rattlers played consistently strong matches. They beat the Brownsville Porter Cowboys with a final score of 1-0. The San Antonio Southwest Dragons were defeated 2-0 and the Leander Rouse Raiders left the stadium having lost 2-1. Up until the state semi-finals, that single goal from the Raiders was the only time that a team had gotten a goal through Sharyland’s keeper in the playoffs.
The Rattlers’ season has ended and while they are not going home with a state championship trophy, they have added quite a few honors to the trophy case. Sharyland soccer has proven itself to be a strong sports program here in the Mission area and the legacy of what they managed to accomplish this season is going to be remembered for years to come. Hold your heads high Rattlers players and coaches! You made Sharyland ISD proud.