January 5, 2022
By Greg SelberClick here for select game photos
Last season the futbol Bobcats were the only side in town to win a playoff game, following a second-place finish in the league and a pretty solid all-around performance. This time around, Coach Luis Cardenas has much of the cast back for another run, and EHS looked strong Tuesday, whipping Harlingen at home 3-nil in advance of the Mission Tournament, Thursday-Saturday.
It was no surprise that the two first-half goals were put in by junior Dilan Cazares, who has been a goalhound since starting as a freshman. He ran onto a ball on the left side and slotted home midway through the first (scoreboard not working yet, preseason) and then headed in the second off a terrific header pass from Hernan Tovar for the 2-goal halftime lead.
Tovar, the speedy attacking veteran, started the night with some blazing runs, while goalkeeper Abdiel Garza withstood a few chances from the Cards. Having played all over the field during his career, Garza brings versatility in the net, with agility, sound decision-making, and a powerful leg.
With Cazares on one wing and lengthy Ethan Garcia on the other, the Bobcats have athletic options out wide; stocky Edgar Chavez paired up front with Tovar and adds some strength to his partner’s wheels. EHS advanced well most of the night, winning balls in the midfield and zooming with pace into the attacking third.
On defense, former upfield force Adrian Taboada has slotted into the center back role and showed his toughness during the match. At left back, Cristian Castillo seems set, after a season spent further up the pitch in 2020-21. He gives the team studied ability on the ball and the ‘Cats seemed reasonably comfortable in playing out of the back Tuesday, always a priority for Cardenas teams.
On the other side, right back Cesar Tovar, brother of Hernan, was solid against Harlingen, though as the second half began, EHS suffered some giveaways and had to rely on Garza, who made some outstanding saves to keep the clean sheet. After a clean block on a Harlingen try in the first five minutes, Garza tipped another attempt over the bar. Taboada leapt in the air to parry a Card attempt and soon Garza starred once more, punching one over at the last minute.
After that furious Cardinal rush, the home side settled into the action and began to dominate again. Midfielder Jerry Vidal, perhaps the most experienced hand on deck, exhibited cool and exquisite technique on the ball, never seeming rushed or worried even in extreme traffic.
As the night wore on, newcomers got to come on for some seasoning, with two freshmen showing well. In particular, slender Jesus “Pollito” Torres was sharp, turning quickly with the ball, chipping a pair of good balls into the box, and even getting physical by shouldering a much larger opponent off the ball in the second half. That kid is going to be a contributor going forward. The other newbie, Giovanni Villarreal, had some promising moments as well, while returner Kayden Moncivais once again displayed desire in getting to the ball and trying to fashion opportunities.
Midway through the second, Miguel Solis, the solidly built Vela transfer, started a rousing sequence that led to a super side-foot pass from Chavez to Cazares, who nearly tallied. Next, Cazares flaunted his skills by neatly trapping a 40-yard pass from keeper Garza, not missing a beat in then striding downfield with the prize. Torres created a late chance down the right side after regaining possession of a loose ball, whereupon Chavez and Casarez came close.
As the night finished, Solis dribbled his way toward the box, breaking away from defensive pressure and coming clear. He took his chance very nicely for the final margin of 3-nil, and now the ‘Cats get ready for a series of matches this weekend. Thursday they face a marathon run of three games at Kenneth White Junior High, against Edcouch-Elsa, Grulla, and Eagle Pass. Friday the headliner is against P-SJ-A Memorial, a formidable side that defeated Econ and then played to a draw with the ‘Cats earlier in the schedule.
Speaking of the Jags, they will also be in action at the Mission Tournament, their matches situated at Mission Vets. Thursday, they face Hidalgo, McAllen High, and SA Southwest. Vela will be in against Rio Hondo, host Mission, P-SJ-A Southwest, and McAllen Memorial on the first day – at Tom Landry Stadium and adjacent fields – while North takes on Laredo Alexander, La Joya, and Sharyland Thursday, also at Landry.
The tournament gives town teams a look at a bevy of 31-6A foes, including Mission, La Joya, and Pharr North. Only P-SJ-A and Juarez-Lincoln are missing from the nine-team league. The action winds up Saturday with the top eight from two days of pool play competing for trophies; the final is set for 3:30 at Landry.