Soccer Showdown

MP prevails 1-0 in classic match between top two district teams

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 2, 2008 - MOUNT PLEASANT - If Mount Pleasant goal keeper Edwin Mendez wasn't in the right place all the time on Friday, it at least seemed like he was.

Mendez made saves on 12 of the Sulphur Springs Wildcats' 16 shots on goal to preserve a 1-0 victory for Mount Pleasant at Sam Parker Field.

With the win, Mount Pleasant (10-0 in District 16-4A) all but wrapped up the district title. Sulphur Springs (8-2), meanwhile, is still solidly in second place with at least a two-game lead over the third place team (pending last night's results) with four games remaining.

The match-up between the top two district teams was as intense and closely-fought as would be expected. MP's Lionel Yanez got loose on a short break-away with 3:54 left in the first half and slipped the game's only goal to the left of SSHS keeper Mario Arellano, who had to come off his line to challenge the shot.

Sulphur Springs had chances to put in the equalizer with nine shots in the second half, but Mendez was seemingly always there to make the save.

SSHS head coach Andy Holt was complimentary of the Tigers' keeper and also praised the play of his own team.

"It seemed like every one of our shots were right at him or he made a play," Holt said. "There were a couple that he had to make a play, but I think his positioning were good. It seemed like it was that way for them all over the field.

"It was just one of those nights where the ball bounced their way. They're a good team and we have a good team. I was proud of the way our guys fought and played to the final whistle."

Defensively, the Wildcats contained the Tigers' potent offense for the first 30 minutes, not allowing a shot on goal until 12:10 remained in the first half. Rodrigo Larios, Jesus Torres, Bailey Booher and Oscar Marroquin were all solid defensively.

In goal, Marroquin also made three straight saves at the five-minute mark in which he knocked down two shots, then smothered a third attempt right before the ball crossed the line.

About a minute later, MP put in the game's only goal, however.

"I think we got tired, and they got in behind us there," Holt said. "The first 30 minutes, we weren't allowing them to get the ball. We were doing a good job of getting on their backs - and maybe that's why we got tired because we were working so hard to get on the backs and not letting them get the ball."

The Wildcats had seven shots in the first half, and perhaps the best chance came at the 11-minute mark on a throw-in by Zach Junot, who was very active in the game contesting balls. His throw was headed by Omar Ortiz to Cruz Lozano, whose sliding shot was stopped by Mendez.

Mendez grabbed two headers in the second half - one by Lozano after a throw-in by Junot and the other by Tate Ramirez on a direct kick by Marroquin.

Then, with 24 minutes to play, Ramirez hit a corner kicker that was headed twice, once by Ortiz and again by Booher, to Lozano, whose bicycle kick attempt was stopped by Mendez.

Jesus Arellano had the Wildcats' final shot, it coming from 12 yards out after a touch by Ramirez, but again, the MP keeper was in the right place.

"Goals are precious in these types of games," Holt said. "We've had those type of games before with Mount Pleasant. When we were able to get things going offensively, they were in the right spot every time."

The Wildcats will return to action on Thursday when they host Texas High with the JV match starting at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at about 7:15 p.m.

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