Titans clean up against Miller on Senior Night
March 10, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 9, 2012 at 9:10 p.m.
Joel Gonzales projects composure when describing his soccer exploits.
That is, until the Victoria East midfielder tried to describe the feeling of scoring on Senior Night - on a header, no less. His eyes lit up and the excitement was evident in his voice
Corpus Christi Miller fouled Cole Fimbel in the Titans attacking third 11 minutes from halftime. When it happened Gonzales, a three-year starter, had a feeling something good was going to come from it. At the time Victoria East was leading the Buccaneers 1-0, but the score didn't remain that way for long.
"I had this feeling in me that I might score or that something was going to happen. I told myself, you should go up there and be ready," Gonzales recalled. "I started working my way over there, walking. He hit the ball solid. I was at the right place at the right time and no one was there."
Fimbel got the assist on Gonzales' goal and the Titans were on their way toward another District 59-4A victory. They defeated Miller 4-0 in a contest that was stopped early in the second half due to the weather.
East improved to 14-2-2 and inched closer to a district championship with the win.
The spine of the team is all seniors, and they are all friends. Fimbel is a center forward. Gonzales and Casey Brown are midfielders, while Eric Mansker is a central defender. The quartet have all been friends for years and played soccer together for the better part of a decade at the recreational, club and varsity levels.
East head coach Tim Eaton said Gonzales is someone who creates opportunities at both ends of the field. His vision is such that he can clog opposing passing lanes in the midfield, and he also possesses the intelligence to quickly transition into counter-attacks.
"He's been with us for four years at the varsity level. He has the experience. But the main thing is the leadership he brings," Eaton said.
"(Joel), Cole and the rest of the senior group, I can't tell you about them individually but I can say collectively they are one of the most pleasant groups of young men to be around. Teachers like them. Coaches like them and people comment on how respectful they are. That starts with them being respectful to each other and knowing each other."
Marasol and Jesse Gonzales' son started playing soccer when he was three. He played soccer and football throughout elementary school, but was always more attracted to the former. In middle school the former quarterback decided "I don't want to get hit anymore, so I went to kicker and decided that would be my duty in high school."
He is a captain along with Fimbel and Brown. The three friends have different leadership styles, but those differences have kept the Titans together this year.
Gonzales said Fimbel is the laid back type, while Brown is the most direct of the three, while he is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps that is fitting because when the season began Gonzales played between Brown and Fimbel in the middle of the Titans 4-3-3 system.
"It helps us a lot because we communicate better than most," Gonzales said. "Eric Mansker is also one who has played with us since we were young. It's all about chemistry. You have to have chemistry to have a good team and a solid foundation."
Titans girls pull away 5-1
Karla Villafranco scored her first goal of the season less than a minute before halftime to awaken Victoria East from a first half slumber in their game against Corpus Christi Miller.
Villafranco's goal gave the Titans a 2-0 halftime lead. They added two more goals in the first six minute of the second half to defeat the Buccaneers Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
The win kept the Titans in fourth place in District 59-4A with an 8-9-2 overall and 5-3-2 district record.
Rachel Mansker scored two goals, Kirsten Haun scored the Titans third goal while senior captain Valerie Rojas got a goal on Senior Night. East had 37 shots on the night, including 16 on goal. Miller goalkeeper Eden Reyes made 11 saves, some of which were at point blank range to keep the score from expanding.
West boys stun Gregory-Portland
PORTLAND - Hector Mendoza scored a brace for the third game running to help Victoria West win its fourth straight contest. The Warriors beat reigning district champions Gregory-Portland 5-1 Friday night in Portland.
Jose Gonzalez scored in the first three minutes and the Warriors were off and running. Fabian Salazar scored and Edward Rodriguez also scored in a game that was essentially over at halftime.
"We shot really well from the get go," said West soccer coach Bill Tally. "You get opportunities and if you don't finish they go by the wayside. We came out hot and finished every chance we had."
West is now 11-8-2 overall and 6-3-1 in District 59-4A play. They are a point behind Gregory-Portland (7-4); however, the Warriors have played one fewer district contest than the Wildcats.
Warriors beat G-P again
PORTLAND - Anhila Rocha scored both goals to lift Victoria West to a 2-0 victory over district-leading Gregory-Portland. Freshman Liz DiSanto had 17 saves to keep the Warriors hopes of winning District 59-4A alive.
Gregory-Portland scored 32 goals in 11 district contests this year. However, West shut out the Lady Cats in both games this season. Freshman Liz DiSanto had 17 saves at the back of the Warriors defense.
West (12-5-2, 6-3-1 district) remain third in the district behind Gregory-Portland and Corpus Christi Moody.