Lady Lobos and Patriots battle for first place
With just over a month remaining in the Rio Grande Valley soccer season, the best girls’ soccer teams are separating themselves from the field and outpacing their district opponents. Big 7 girls’ soccer teams have routinely resided in that upper echelon, and this year is no different.
Big 7 teams have compiled decisive non-conference wins against formidable opponents, basked in tournament title glory, and seized control of their respective districts. While the mid-season successes is impressive and commendable, every team knows no one has ever won a gold ball in January. Yet, every team is hungry and eager to compete for the opportunity. Here’s an update on how that’s going:
Mission Veterans Lady Patriots
After a slow start to the season, the Lady Patriots have won four games in a row by a point margin of 7-1. Their undefeated district record puts them one game away from sole possession of first place. Tonight, the Lady Patriots will put their undefeated district record on the line against a formidable road opponent and current district leader, La Joya-Palmview.
Their Tuesday night game vs Roma could be a foreshadowing of what’s to come. In that game, the Lady Patriots had over 20 shots on goal from every angle and position on the field. The Lady Patriots stayed on the attack, launching strikes at will to a symphony of cheers from the Patriot faithful.
The Lady Gladiators controlled the ball for only 5-6 minutes of the game. Star forward and All-Valley hopeful Mia Sanchez led the Lady Patriots’ blitz by scoring both goals 15 minutes into the first and second halves. Midfielders Ximena Garcia and Jasmine Ramirez aided her relentless assault by feeding her the ball in open space. Wing Paola Ramirez blazing up and down the field, advancing the attack and working in tandem with Sanchez, the Lady Gladiators were overwhelmed. Itza Bella Nunez and Bianca Garcia solidified the attack by repelling Roma’s advances.
Their victory lacked precision; of the 20-plus shots on goal the Lady Patriots created, only two went in. Sloppy passing and miscommunication contributed to some of those missed shots. While a few mistakes on the road to a win are okay, if the Lady Patriots expect to win tonight, they can’t squander those chances at points.
“We have to wait and get everything under control. One shot at a time, not lose our heads. Just because one doesn’t go in doesn’t mean the rest aren’t. So we have to take it easy and adjust our body,” Sanchez said when asked how the team could capitalize on those missed opportunities.
“Slowly but surely, this team is starting to play to their potential…Our girls put all their heart and effort into every practice and game, so I really can’t complain much. We are currently undefeated in district, but we have a big game coming up against Palmview. As long as we continue to give it our all inside and outside the field, we will be satisfied with the outcome,” Head Coach Kenan Nunez said.
La Joya Palmview Lady Lobos
An 8-1 start and 3-0 district record have placed the Lady Lobos atop the District 30 5A standings. This explosive start comes one year after the Lady Lobos lost the 4th-place tie breaker and missed the playoffs. This year is different. The Lady Lobos have outscored their opponents 45 goals to 5 on their current six-game winning streak.
Notable wins include 15-0 and 10-0 shutouts vs Raymondville and Rio Grande City. While those scores are impressive, Lady Lobos’s biggest challenge has yet to manifest. However, it’s only hours away now. They face undefeated Mission Veterans Memorial High School in La Joya for first place tonight. The two teams have been on a collision course, and tonight may be a de facto championship game.
Senior and newly minted 100-goal scorer Valerie Morales leads the Lady Lobos’ aggressive attack along with Alexia Cabrera, Allison Dimas, and Jessica Arevalo. Their nonstop activity will be mandatory to offset the Lady Patriots’ attack. If they’re successful, it’s hard to imagine any mistakes or failures that would stop them from winning a district championship.
Sharyland Pioneer Lady Diamondbacks
Despite holding an above 500 record at 12-6, the Lady Diamondbacks floundered in district play before their 4-0 victory over PSJA Memorial High School Tuesday night. Before their latest victory, four straight losses to McAllen Nikki Rowe, PSJA North, McAllen High, and McAllen Memorial put them behind the 8-ball.
The Lady Diamondbacks are playing catchup in one of the Valley’s most competitive districts. They face PSJA Southwest tonight at home before a tough four-game slate against Edinburg Vela, Sharyland, Valley View, and Rowe.
Sharyland Lady Rattlers
The Lady Rattlers started this year 8-0-1 after rolling through the Brownsville Invitational Soccer Tournament. They won first place at that tournament with notable victories over La Joya Juarez-Lincoln and Brownsville Rivera.
Senior midfielder Yhoalibeth Alvarez has been slicing through opposing defenses, leading the team with 12 of its 21 goals. Senior Midfielder Karissa Flores has combined with Alvarez to form one of the most potent attacking duos in the district. As great as their offensive attack is, the defense is just as aggressive and suffocating. The Lady Rattler’s defenders have been menacing district foes, only allowing five goals so far. They have answered all early season challenges and are stampeding toward its finale.
The ladies are clinging to their district’s fourth and final playoff spot, remaining two games behind first-place McAllen Memorial and two in front of fifth-place McAllen Nikki Rowe. Tonight, they can further distance themselves from the Lady Warriors on the road vs. PSJA North.
“I’m extremely happy with the performance of our team this year, especially playing in one of the most difficult districts in South Texas,” Head Coach Mario Ribera said.
Mission Lady Eagles
This year’s crop of lady Eagles is a persistent bunch. Their impressive 3rd-place performance in the Brownsville Rivera Showcase constellation bracket was a galvanizing experience.
“With 17 returning varsity players, the squad demonstrated experience and cohesion,” Head Coach William Proctor said.
The 7-9-1 Lady Eagles will travel to Edinburg and battle Edinburg High School on February 6th in their district opener. Last year, the Lady Eagles finished fourth and lost to the district champion Lady Bobcats twice. Coach Proctor’s veteran-laden squad is ready to reverse those fortunes this year. Karina Amescua, Michelle Avila, and America Perez have guided the team all year. With 12 goals in the season, Arianna Escobedo’s emergence as the team’s top goal-scorer has been a revelation. The Lady Eagles have all the tools necessary for a playoff berth: veteran leadership, experience, playmakers at multiple levels, and an attacking, high-level goal scorer. Now, all that’s left to do is execute.
Juarez-Lincoln Lady Huskies
The 23-24 Lady Huskies team is playing inspired, reminiscent of teams in years past. After reclassifying to 5A last year, they finished second in the district behind Laredo Martin. Two years ago, they were one of the best teams in South Texas. They won 21 games en route to a district championship, scoring 83 goals and only allowing 10. This year’s team will travel to Rio Grande City tonight to solidify their hold on third place and remain in the mix for a district championship. Dominant 3-0 and 5-0 victories over Roma and Laredo Cigarroa have given them confidence. A close 4-3 penalty shootout loss to 2nd place Mission Veterans tempered that excitement, but the Lady Huskies aren’t afraid of what’s next.
“…we fought valiantly but ended up losing 4-3 in penalty kicks. Despite the loss, our team remains solid, with standout performances from key players,” Head Coach Arnoldo Cardenas stated.
There is a lot of season left, and it might be early to call. Still, the lady Huskies are rounding into what looks like playoff form thanks to leadership and playmaking from offensive dynamo Samantha Jimenez, defensive maestro Aylin Rocha, versatile x-factor Natalia De Leon, and stout goalie Kaetlyn Garza.
La Joya Lady Coyotes
After last year’s disappointing 2-0 first-round playoff loss to Los Fresnos, the Lady Coyotes started this season 5-1-1, with a lone loss to those same Lady Falcons. That stretch was highlighted by a 9-1 victory over Valley View and shutouts against three other opponents. The Coyotes have lost six times since then and will enter district play against Edinburg North next Tuesday at 9-7-1. They will seek their first victory in 3 games after two unfortunate losses to Mission Veterans and Weslaco High. Catherine Rosas and America Quintero will lead a hungry Lady Coyotes squad into district play as they journey toward the playoffs.