LA VERNIA — Try as they might, the back four simply could not make up for the deficiencies up front. The Gonzales Apaches lost in the bi-district round to Boerne 3-1 in La Vernia on Thursday, March 29, but the three goals weren’t indicative of the tremendous play of the defense including goalkeeper Ancel Atkinson.
“That’s been the story of the whole season,” head boys soccer coach Greg Ramirez said after the game. “The defense makes up for the ‘mids’ and forwards and can only hold on for so long.”
Boerne maintained most of the possession throughout the first half, forcing the back line to fend off attackers. The Greyhounds earned four corner kicks in the half, while Atkinson dove every which way, with a great save in the 30th minute and another in the 33rd before Boerne finally scoring in the 38th minute, with 2:29 left in the first half.
Down 1-0, the Apaches trotted out a new formation in the second half, reverting to the 4-3-3 versus the 4-4-2 lineup they were in at the start of the game.
“We had a disadvantage with having just two forwards,” Ramirez said. “We changed it up to a 4-3-3 to open it up more, get our forwards down to their side and try to score a goal.”
The Apaches were more aggressive with the switch, launching long passes over the top instead of trying to work the middle of the field.
The Apaches’ aggressiveness also showed in their shooting. Instead of looking for an opening closer to the box, the forwards took their shot from far, trying to convert on any open chance they can get.
In the 58th minute, the Apaches earned a free kick, inches away from the box. Junior midfielder Anthony Veliz lined up for the kick, while two of his teammates stood in front of the ball, forming a wall. As soon as Veliz started his trot, the duo split the wall, allowing Veliz’s shot to curl through, fooling Boerne’s keeper and tying the game at 1-1.
“That was not designed,” Ramirez laughed, “that was just off the wall, real quick, that they decide to do, which was pretty cool. Something that they worked on before.”
With the momentum seemingly on Gonzales’ side, the Apaches pushed on and had a few more chances to score, before Boerne eventually found their way on the Apaches’ side of the field and scored with 12:17 left in the game. Four minutes later, the Greyhounds scored to go up 3-1.
“It’s been the result of the season,” Ramirez explained, “starting off strong, but not finishing. We’ve been working hard to fix that but we just haven’t able to.”
Boerne wore out the Apaches, maintaining possession and finding openings, finishing the game with the 3-1 result.
After the game, Ramirez thanked his seniors for their tremendous contributions to the soccer program then turned to the younger group and talked about their need to step up so that a first-round exit isn’t in their near future.
“[I’m] excited about this new group coming up,” Ramirez beamed. “All they have to do is get their feet we. I’m going to spend the rest of my time focusing on them, my new group. This new group that’s going into this new district, we’re going to turn a lot of heads, that’s for sure.”