Victoria West outlasts Victoria East to win Tim Eaton Invitational
By BY WILL BROWN - WBROWN@VICAD.COM
Jan. 19, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.
The relief was evident once the buzzer sounded.
Finally Victoria West was on the winning side of another tense game with its rivals.
Ernesto Perez's fifth goal of the season in the 46th minute was the difference Saturday night as West beat Victoria East 2-1.
As an added bonus, Saturday's win meant the Warriors, winners of the Tim Eaton Invitational, were able to lift the first trophy in school history. Eaton, the longtime coach at Victoria High, Memorial then Victoria East was 3-0-1 against the Warriors.
"It feels good. We haven't done it since the school has been built," Perez said. "It's really special."
As for Perez's goal, he was unsure how the ball wound up at his feet. What the senior forward did recall was that once it was at his feet - following a West corner kick - he flicked it past East goalie Ricky Stratmann for the game-winner.
The goal was the best scoring opportunity either team had in the very physical second half. The seven cards doled out in the final 40 minutes - West had three yellows and a red, while East had three players cautioned - was more than the six shots the two teams combined to take.
Isaac Ramirez had East's best chance to equalize with 14 minutes remaining, but he was called offside when he received Ross Mantley's high diagonal pass in the penalty area.
East won three straight in the rivalry series, all of which were won by a single goal.
Saturday, the Titans never led.
Danny Valadez lofted a free kick into the penalty area in the fourth minute. Hector Mendoza was lurking at the back post and put the ball across the body of East goalkeeper AJ Cervantes for the opener.
West (7-1-1) continued to look for its chances in the first half, but Cervantes, as well as central defenders Jake Padilla and Stratmann, did enough to concede just two shots on goal in the first half.
Ninety seconds before halftime East equalized when Wyatt Fimbel’s shot deflected off a West player and wrong footed goalkeeper Juanito Gonzalez.
Stratmann, is typically the Titans goalkeeper, but he started the game in central defense. East (2-5-1) tried shifting Stratmann and others around throughout the night, but it wasn’t enough to unlock the West defense.
Then again, Ramos is quick to add that the Warriors defense is their ability to pass and possess the ball.
“We’re a strong defensive team,” said West senior defender Korey Parks. “We try not to let anyone get by us and we try to keep Juanito as bored as possible back there.”
Gonzalez only made two saves on the evening, both of which were in the first half. The rest of the night he was organizing his defense and looking for ways to slowly bleed the clock.