Late goal ends Warriors' season (w/gallery, video)
March 25, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 24, 2014 at 10:25 p.m.
Though initially caught off-guard by a surprising first-minute goal by Flour Bluff's Haleigh Lombardo, Victoria West never lost hope in its Class 4A, Region IV bidistrict game at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night.
Lorenza Becerra rallied the Warriors with a goal with nine minutes left in the game. It gave West (13-6-5) hope of moving on to an area round playoff game.
But it wasn't meant to be.
For the second year in a row, the Warriors fell in the bidistrict round, losing 2-1.
With less than two minutes left, Flour Bluff's Kelsey Trudeau broke away from a pack of Warrior defenders to score the game-winning goal.
"That's exactly what soccer is," said West coach James McCarter. "The game's going, going, and in a second, all of a sudden, one shot, one kick - in one instant, it changes."
West, with a roster full of underclassmen and a handful of experienced juniors and seniors, had faced the Lady Hornets (23-2) once before this season in the Victoria ISD tournament.
The Warriors lost that game as well, but Becerra admitted they were a different team this time around.
"They got better, but we also improved from the beginning of the season to now," said Becerra, who scored her second goal of the season and her first goal in a playoff game. "I'm proud of that. We're a different team."
Junior goalkeeper Liz DiSanto made several saves throught the game, including a jumping catch toward the end of the game.
"Liz has grown by leaps and bounds," McCarter said. "She works hard, goes to camps and does training, and it shows. She's gotten better this season from beginning to end and to end like this - on her scorecard, we have saves, and there were two or three that were marked as 'great saves.'"
For seniors Nitzia Mineth and Sarah Warner, the last-minute goal did more than end this particular game - it ended their high school soccer careers.
"It's bittersweet; I've grown up with these girls; they're my sisters," Warner said. "It's hard because it's our last chance to say goodbye."
The transformation for the Warriors was apparent to Warner as she was one of a few senior leaders.
"A lot have gone from either JV or from another country where the game is played differently and just being young, and they had to step up quickly," Warner said. "They did a great job adapting; it's hard to get to that level in two months, and they did a great job."
The loss to Flour Bluff stings especially for Mineth, who was a freshman on varsity in 2010 when West went to the sectional round of playoffs. The Warriors lost to Flour Bluff that time, too.
"It's very disappointing; I was so ready to go to the next round, and it hit very hard," Mineth said.
But Mineth's time with the Warriors has been amazing, she said.
"It's something I'll never forget," she said. "It's the one thing I love to d,o and the people I did it with were pretty amazing people."
West will lose five players, including two starters next sason, but McCarter is confident in the team's ability to dust itself off.
"The girls have to understand that tomorrow is when we make a difference for next year," he said. "We get up, dust it off, the sun comes up, and you go to work."
Flour Bluff coach Mario Lopez said that both teams wore each other out.
"It was a great game back and forth," Lopez said. "Two great teams competed against each other."