March 23, 2022
By Greg Selber
One of them broke a 0-6 drought with a postseason win in 2021, and the other wants to end a 3-year streak of first-round exits, in the 2022 version of the playoffs.
EHS, second place entry from District 31-6A, will take on Donna North, its former league mate who came third in its current loop, 32-6A, this season. The Bobcats scored a huge result in the bi-district round last season, beating Brownsville Hanna to end a run of early ousters. North, meanwhile, has been dropped in the first stage three times running, and will try to reverse this trend against Brownsville Rivera, Friday at Richard R. Flores Stadium. That one starts at 6 p.m., with EHS-Donna North to follow for a rare playoff doubleheader at The Stadium.
The Cougars, third in 31 this time around, have a history with Rivera, having clipped the Raiders in the third round back in 2017 on the way the region final, the program’s best ever performance. They competed against Rivera again in 2019, losing in bi-district, so this is the rubber match.
North was among the top teams in the league all season, and after a 4-1 start weathered a three-match losing streak to finish well. The Coogs won four of their last six and for the league slate allowed just 13 goals. Defense is the strongest suit, and that will be important against a skilled and speedy Rivera side that plays the ball on the ground and will switch it in a heartbeat. The Raiders scored 46 goals in 32-6A play and allowed just 11, finishing right with Hanna but settling for the second seed. They shut out six opponents and are on a 7-game winning streak heading in.
As good as the program has been – a state title in 2015 – Rivera did not make the playoffs last season, and the motivation to re-prove themselves has made the Raiders a daunting foe in 2022. As stated, they beat North in 2019 before losing in area to Laredo LBJ, 3-1. A year prior, they collected W’s over EHS, SA Southwest, and P-SJ-A Southwest to reach the regional round, where they were edged by SA Lee, 2-1.
It is a program with a long pedigree of success, but one that still has something to prove after the down year in 2021.
If the Cougars have a worry, it may be in penalties: they lost all four shootouts in 31-6A play, and to lesser sides as well: La Joya, P-SJ-A, and Mission twice. They split with EHS and played well against champ Lincoln in the first round, falling just 1-0.
Elias Moran’s team was ranked No. 7 among 6A’s in the latest Rio Grande Valley Soccer Coaches Association poll, while Rivera was No. 2.
EHS V. FORMER LEAGUE FOE DONNA NORTH
Donna North has been a very solid program the last four or five seasons and moved down the Valley two years back, after realignment.
The Chiefs managed 30 goals and allowed 13, with many of their games being low-scoring and hard-fought. DN lost to Los Fresnos and Hanna early, went on a tear in midseason, and then suffered defeats at the hands of Hanna and Rivera late, the Raiders winning in penalties.
Last season the Chiefs went out in bi-district after a setback to 31-6A champ Juarez-Lincoln. In 2018, competing as a 5A side, DN was beaten early by a Valley View group that went to state that season.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, have been excellent all season, amassing 57 goals to 19 for the opposition and winning 13 of 16 matches, one in penalties over La Joya. Their losses were to Lincoln and North in regulation and to Econ in penalties and they allowed one goal or less in 11 matches.
In the latest RGVSCO poll, EHS was third, Donna North sixth.