East's Mansker lights it up against West
By BY WILL BROWN - WBROWN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 15, 2013 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2013 at 8:15 p.m.
Victoria East set the tone early with a goal just 22 seconds in.
Madison Hawkins' game-opening goal put Victoria East up for good, but it would be Rachel Mansker who would steal the show.
Victoria East's junior co-captain scored four goals to help the Titans cruise to a 5-1 victory over their rivals from Victoria West.
"It was an amazing feeling," Mansker said. "It felt very exciting and very good. I'm just glad our team won."
Mansker's performance was something everyone, even non-fans, could rave about. The quantity of goals was one thing, but the quality is what led to the compliments post-game.
The first came in the 10th minute, when her right-footed shot dipped just before it reached West goalie Liz Di Santo, sneaking into the net. Mansker added two nearly identical missiles from a similar distance in the 24th and 47th minutes of the game.
"I take a breath, and I look where I am going to place it," Mansker said when asked about her free-kick routine. "I don't think if its going in or not. I think about where is the right spot to put it."
Her ability to take free kicks from 35 or 40 yards away is well known by opponents.
Then again, the mark of good players is to succeed, even when people know what is coming.
With Mansker, her free kicks have been a staple of her attacking midfield role each of the last three years.
Her final goal following a failed West clearance in the 76th minute erased Sarah Warner's 67th minute consolation goal for the Warriors.
"She is a true team player," said East soccer coach Misty Boenig. "I have watched her develop from a freshman into a dominant force on the field. She is selfless at every opportunity. She makes the best decisions I could ask a player to make."
Boenig said her team was ready for Friday's contest as soon as the whistle blew Tuesday night marking the end of its game against Corpus Christi Ray.
Mansker said that the adrenaline takes over at times, but her goal during games is to remain calm while leading her team.
East (11-4-1) won its third straight over the Warriors. But, more important, Corpus Christi Ray defeated Gregory-Portland 1-0 Friday night, meaning there is a three-way tie at the top of District 59-4A. The Lady Titans, Lady Texans and Lady Cats are all 4-1.
Mansker, though, is being cautiously optimistic.
"I don't know what the future holds, but I know that we are going to keep trying and keep playing hard," she said.
Boenig and her counterpart, James McCarter, said Hawkins' early goal played a part in the Lady Titans snatching momentum.
From there, Mansker's composure in midfield, passing and especially long-range shooting were enough to control the game for the team in red.
McCarter said the Warriors played better in the second half, after alterations in its lineup.
It led to more chances, like Warner's goal by Sarah Warner in the 67th minute, and gave the Warriors optimism heading into Tuesday's game with Gregory-Portland.
Of course, the Warriors (7-7, 2-3) would probably prefer to play any team that does not have Rachel Mansker on it.
"We had three girls we tried to match up with her quickness and deny the ball," McCarter said. "She has a special head for the game."
BOYS SOCCERVICTORIA WEST 1, VICTORIA EAST 0
Hector Mendoza's goal 95 seconds into the game was all Victoria West needed to win its 11th straight game Friday night.
West beat Victoria East 1-0 at Memorial Stadium to improve to 14-1-1 and 5-0 in District 59-4A play.
West will have a chance to avenge its only loss of the season Tuesday night when it travels to Gregory-Portland.
Victoria East (2-13-2) has lost nine straight games. The Titans will look for their first district win next week when they host Corpus Christi Miller.