Lobos lose to Rattlers in overtime bi-district battle

Claire Cruz, Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas
·4 min read

Mar. 28—By CLAIRE CRUZ, Staff Writer

Players from both teams laid on the hot turf after Saturday's Class 5A bi-district playoff game, spent from leaving it all on the field during a long battle under the Deep South Texas sun.

The Sharyland High Rattlers prevailed despite being down two men, defeating the Brownsville Lopez Lobos 4-3 in overtime to advance to the area round. Brownsville Lopez overcame injuries and a two-goal deficit to force the overtime period.

"We almost pulled it off, though we were down two injured players. We had injuries, cramps and everything, and they fought through that," Lobos coach Amadeo Escandon said. "We just told the guys, 'Keep on battling.' My hat's off to Sharyland, they kept on pushing, and even though they were down two men they pushed our numbers and they scored."

Brownsville Lopez controlled possession and kept most of the first-half action on one side of the field. Sharyland High's speedy offensive attack created some chances as Juan Trevino and Cesar Gutierrez pushed the ball upfield, but two quick saves by Lobos goalkeeper Jose Lerma kept the Rattlers off the board.

Juan Jaramillo, Juan Velez, Daniel Cruz and Luis Gonzalez were some of the key offensive pieces that maintained possession and got scoring chances for Lopez. The Lobos had an opportunity to take an early lead on a penalty, but the kick was missed. Lopez sent one off the post shortly after a yellow card was issued to the Rattlers.

"We had a lot of scoring situations but we missed a few, missed the penalty, too," Escandon said. "We kept pushing up the ball, and that's one of the things we always do here. It's one of those things where you live by the sword, you die by the sword, and I think that's what happened today."

Sharyland High battled hard on 50-50 balls and leaned on its speed to take control. The Rattlers pushed the ball upfield to set up the only goal of the first half, which Alan Guerrero sent past a diving Lerma. Guerrero scored again to make it 2-0 Sharyland High early in the second.

The Rattlers dominated possession during the first 20 minutes of the second half, but a pair of yellow cards — the second of which resulted in an ejection — gave Lopez an edge. After failing to finish on a few more chances, Jaramillo cut into the lead on a second-chance ball that bounced off the goalkeeper's hands.

The fourth yellow card in regulation cut Sharyland High's field to eight players midway through the second half. The Lobos quickly capitalized on the advantage to tie the game when Jaramillo again sent a ball that was blocked but not controlled by the goalkeeper into the back of the net.

Jaramillo, Gonzalez and Victor Gallardo created some chances for Lopez to win in regulation, but solid defense and some clutch saves by Rattlers goalie Marte De Alejandro forced overtime. Lopez claimed its first lead of the contest when Jaramillo recorded a hat trick in the third minute of overtime. Rodriguez, Cruz and Jesus Villafranca came up with defensive plays and fought for loose balls to keep the Lobos on top, 3-2, heading into the final 10 minutes.

"I don't know if we relaxed at the end or we just ran out of legs, maybe it was a combination of both. But Sharyland's a good team and we knew it was going to be tough," Escandon said. "We had a lot of young guys in their first year on varsity, so I know that experience is not there yet. We know we made a few mistakes, and we'll remember those next year and hopefully we don't do them again."

Marcelo Rodriguez, Jose Sanchez, Alex Jarvis and Guerrero brought the energy and lifted the Rattlers to victory during the second overtime period. Sanchez sailed a corner kick into the goal to tie, then Rodriguez scored 90 seconds later to take a 4-3 lead. Sharyland High rode the momentum shift to victory behind an inspired defensive effort that frequently cleared the zone as the Lobos tried to mount another comeback.

"They never stopped running, and they played their hearts out even though we had two men down. I'm very proud of them," Rattlers coach Reveriano Hernandez said. "It's the playoffs, so from here on out all the games are going to be the same. They need to keep their composure, and even though we didn't today, the other guys stepped up and responded well. It took a team effort."