Rattlers and Huskies lead the pack
There are less than ten games left in the RGV soccer season. A month of games will decide the fate of all Big 7 teams, one way or another. Each team has weathered the grueling demands of a sport that is only kind to the fearless. Injuries, coaching changes, thrilling victories, and agonizing defeats have littered every team’s season, but there’s no stopping now. Not this close to playoffs.
The Sharyland Rattlers and La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Huskies are once again the class of The Big 7, but a newcomer has crept into the conversation. After years of being a district doormat, the Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks are entrenched in the top 4 of District 31-5A as the current three seed. Their Matchup this Friday with a rival will determine their playoff future.
Here’s how each Big 7 Team is doing in their respective district races:
The Sharyland Rattlers began the 23-24 season red hot. With only three returning starters from last year’s state-semifinal squad, the Rattlers opened district play with a 6-1 record. Veteran midfielders Juan Pablo Trevino and Nicolas Trevino, along with leading goal scorer Iker Urueta, led the Rattlers to a narrow first-place lead over the surging PSJA Memorial Wolverines, a team the Rattlers beat 4-2 in their district opener. But after a close 5-3 (PKS) loss to the McHi Bulldogs Tuesday night, the Rattlers find their season at an impasse.
Two consecutive losses have dropped the Rattlers out of first place. A matchup against the 3rd place Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks tonight could throw a wrench in the Rattler’s plans for a district title. A loss could halt the Rattler’s momentum and temper aspirations for a second consecutive trip to the state semifinals as they look to stay afloat in District 31-5A. A win tonight would put the Rattlers back in the race for a District championship and break a 0-2 losing streak. The stakes are high, but this Rattlers squad is prepared to fight.
“I think it’s going to be a game of very few chances. It’s going to be a lot of physicality, just physical effort more than anything. Because of the type of match it is, and hopefully, we get the three points there because we really need them,” Head Coach Jorge Guerra said when asked about tonight’s matchup versus crosstown rival and district foe Sharyland Pioneer.
Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks
The Pioneer Diamondbacks currently occupy District 31 5A’s third-place slot and are in a position to make the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. New head coach Tito Alanis has the Diamondbacks rolling thanks to solid performances from leading goal scorer Hector Veliz and a squad of physical defenders like Brownville Tournament MVP Santos Gonzalez. Close yet decisive wins over Valley View, PSJA North, McAllen Rowe, and Edinburg Vela have put the Diamondbacks in the driver’s seat of their playoff destiny. They are 5-1 in district play ahead of tonight’s matchup with Sharyland High. With a win, the Diamondbacks could leapfrog the Rattlers in the standings and move into second place behind PSJA Memorial.
The Mission Eagles have had a season of ups and downs. Four consecutive losses to open the season put the Eagles behind the 8-ball. But a 3-2 over the Brownsville Hanna Eagles in their last non-district game of the season gave them confidence ahead of their first district game on the road against Edinburg High Tuesday night. Although the Eagles lost that game 5-2, they’re still optimistic they can make the playoffs. A victory in tonight’s matchup vs Edinburg North and in their Feb 13th matchup against defending district champions Edinburg Economedes will be crucial to that goal.
“Our Goal is a playoff spot. And if things go our way, we’ll be on top,” head coach Cristos Barouhas said.
Mission Veterans Patriots
Patriots’ soccer is reeling after a 1-4 start in district play capped off with a 2-0 defeat to Laredo Nixon Tuesday night. The Patriots have been outscored by their district opponents 12-5, with their lone win coming against last-place Laredo Cigarroa. The Patriots have a roster of young, talented playmakers, Diego Tostado the most notable among them. They are a capable squad, but they will take some time to get on track. The Patriots will look to rebound tonight against the Rio Grande City Rattlers.
La Joya Coyotes
The La Joya Coyotes finished their non-district schedule 6-3-3. Returning an experienced group of upperclassmen has paid off for the Coyotes, who have seen weekly improvement. The Coyotes have relied on veteran leadership from Jose Borrego, Brandon Sauceda, and Thom Torres throughout the season. After holding their opponents scoreless in the three games before the district opener, the Coyotes opened district play Tuesday night with a 2-1 victory over Edinburg North High School, thanks to goals from Angel Quintana and Santiago Leal. Tonight, the Coyotes travel to PSJA Stadium to take on the PSJA Bears in their second district game of the year, hoping to continue their winning streak.
La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Huskies
Within the last decade, under the leadership of Head Coach Victor Ramos, The Juarez-Lincoln Huskies have boasted one of the best soccer programs in Texas. In that span, the Huskies have averaged around 20 wins per season. This year’s squad is continuing that trend with a vengeance. After starting the season 2-3, the Huskies were winners in 10 of their last 11 games. The Huskies are 5-0 to open district play while outscoring their opponents 24-3. Omar Solis and Ruben Tijerina lead the Husky’s hellacious attack, with over 12 goals scored between the pair. Their 3-1 final on the road against Laredo Martin has the Huskies charged up ahead of their game against rival La Joya Palmview tonight. With a win, the Huskies would solidify their stranglehold on District 30-5A as the season’s final leg nears.
La Joya Palmview Lobos
After losing their head coach to illness, the Palmview Lobos have had to rally around assistant and current interim Coach Antonio Arellano. Senior midfielders Fabian Hinojosa and Christopher Nino have organized the offense and worked to control the game for the Lobos. Defenders Ruben Davila and Greco Dimas, the backbone of the Lobos’ defense, have solidified the backline. The team’s leading goal scorers, Sebastian Rios, Daniel Vera, and Fabian Montalvo, complete a formidable attacking trio. The Lobos currently reside in the middle of the District 30-5A standings. Despite their penalty shootout loss to the Roma Gladiators Tuesday night, the Lobos are eager to recover tonight against rival Juarez-Lincoln.
“Our kids have shown resilience, and their hopes of making playoffs are still intact. I’m glad I get to train an excellent group of hardworking and dedicated students that love the game of soccer,” Coach Arellano said.