East-West ready to renew soccer rivalry
Feb. 19, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.
The rivalry between Victoria West and Victoria East almost ensures Tuesday night will be a pulsating game with a few late challenges and far more intensity.
There is one plotline for both the boys and girls soccer games at Memorial Stadium: Both games feature one team challenging for the top spot in District 59-4A, facing an opponent on the fringes of the playoff berth.
Tim Eaton's Victoria East boys program sports a 10-1-1 record and is undefeated (4-0-1) in district play. The Warriors (7-7-2, 2-2-1) are in a tie with Rockport-Fulton, and Corpus Christi Moody in third place in the district race.
Victoria West beat Corpus Christi Ray Friday night with a goal in the last 10 minutes. Head coach Bill Tally said Jose Gonzalez' goal was huge because the Warriors didn't want to get too far behind in the district race.
It was the second time in three district games the Warriors salvaged a result in the last 10 minutes of a contest. The first was on Feb. 10 when a goal with less than a minute to go secured a 1-1 draw against Moody.
"They are really determined," Tally said. "We talk about playing the whole 80 minutes and staying focused and taking things one half at a time. Even the Gregory-Portland game, where we were down quite a bit in the end, I didn't see a drop off in the kids. They were still pushing, trying to score."
Both East and West are midfield-oriented teams. Neither Tally, nor Eaton, makes a secret about it. West will line up in its preferred 3-4-3 formation and possess the ball while East will play a 4-3-3 and try to counterattack.
Eaton said simply, the team that wins the midfield will win Tuesday night.
"We have to take advantage of the opportunities we have," Eaton said. "We have to limit the opportunities they have. We have to finish in the fi nal third and on the set pieces we get. We have to also try to establish dominance in the middle of the field."
Considering the firepower in the middle of the field for both teams - East's top scorer Cole Fimbel and West dynamo Felipe Bastida are midfielders - the game could be scoreless or a glut of goals.
But that is not the only matchup worth noting Tuesday.
For the girls, a Warriors (10-4, 4-1) win puts them in first place halfway through the district season. Meanwhile, East (6-8, 3-2) is holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot, two points ahead of Corpus Christi Ray.
West freshman Anhila Rocha has lit up opponents all season, providing either a goal or an assist in four of the Warriors five district contests. East's two central defenders and goalkeeper, Kelsey Ferry are all either freshmen or first year-starters. The Titans defense has allowed just one goal in their three-game district winning streak.
Should West lose, the two Victoria schools would challenge Gregory-Portland and Corpus Christi Moody for the district crown and further segregate the bottom three schools in the district.