Monterey boys soccer continues to avenge last year's disappointments

PLAINVIEW — Last year's shortcomings can be forgiven now.

The Monterey boys soccer team suffered a pair of disappointments in 2021. The first came in a loss to Lubbock-Cooper in the regular-season finale, which prevented the Plainsmen from winning the district title. They followed it up with an overtime loss to Caprock in the first round of the playoffs.

Things are a bit different this year.

The Plainsmen got the title-clinching win to close the 2023 regular season. On Friday, they kept it going with a 3-0 win over Tascosa in the bi-district round of the Class 5A playoffs inside Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium.

Miguel Robledo, who booted the final goal of the night for Monterey (19-0-4), was a member of last year's team that suffered the heart-breaking setbacks. He and his fellow returners made it their goal to ensure history didn't repeat itself.

"It feels great," Robledo said of Friday's win. "Losing your first playoff game, it's devastating. But now coming back this next season and winning, it's good."

Monterey's Miguel Robledo (14) high-fives Frankie Diaz after his goal in a Class 5A bi-district boys soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.
Monterey's Miguel Robledo (14) high-fives Frankie Diaz after his goal in a Class 5A bi-district boys soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.

For the first 40 minutes of Friday's contest, though, head coach Simon Hernandez thought the Plainsmen might be on their way to another letdown.

Opportunity after opportunity to score went wide left, wide right or over the net. Tascosa (4-13-1) goal keeper Nick Carducci had plenty to do with that. Carducci had an active night chasing down balls as Monterey dominated possession. A scoreless first half brought some trepidation to the Plainsmen.

"That was not the plan," Hernandez said. "Our last game was the Tuesday over spring break and we didn't play a playoff warmup, which that's on me, but it took a little while to find our shooting boots. We still got work to do to get it back where we were, but give credit to Tascosa. They kept a lot of guys on us in front of the game and made it difficult for us to score."

After missing on about four such chances in the first half, Frankie Diaz finally got a header by Carducci in the 42nd minute to break the stalemate. Gio Cardenas added to the lead about eight minutes later on one Tascosa vehemently opposed.

Cardenas rocketed a shot toward the net, which Carducci initially corralled. However, the ball slip by him for a second and rested just over the line in the front corner of the net. After conferring for a minute, officials awarded the goal.

Monterey celebrates its 3-0 win over Tascosa in a Class 5A bi-district boys soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.
Monterey celebrates its 3-0 win over Tascosa in a Class 5A bi-district boys soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.

Tascosa head coach John Whitfield objected to the call a bit too long and was given a yellow card for arguing.

Regardless, the Monterey attack prevented the Rebels from even possessing the ball more than a few seconds here and there. Tascosa got off two shots on the night — both clean saves by Reese Rasor — while the Plainsmen pounded the ball on the opposite end.

Most of those shot attempts were off the mark in some form or fashion. Robledo, had previously sailed a ball over the net before finding a happy medium for his goal in the 73rd minute.

"They probably had a force field around the goal," Robledo joked, "but we were moving the ball good. We just got unlucky in the first half. Couldn't score. We knew we had to come in the second half and score some goals to win the game."

Monterey will take on El Paso Burges in the area round at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Astound Stadium in Midland.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Monterey boys soccer continues to avenge last year's disappointments