Battling two other teams for the final two playoff spots, Gonzales knew that wins were at a premium and they needed every one they could get if they wanted to advance to the postseason. To compound matters, they were facing two teams who had defeated them earlier in the season.
The Apaches were able to avenge an earlier loss and help their playoff chances with a 4-0 road victory over the Palacios Sharks in a rare Saturday district game. The Sharks had defeated the Tribe 2-1 at Apache Field in the first half of district.
Injuries had the Apaches (8-10-0, 4-5-0) missing several key players, but that didn’t stop their offensive attack. “Several players [were] in new positions,” said Coach Billy Holifield, “[but] we scored early and kept the pressure on the entire game.”
Among those who were playing an unfamiliar position was Emilano Lopez. Lopez, from the wing, was able to contribute a goal and an assist. The shot of the day came from Jesus Huerta, who took a corner kick and bent it just inside the goalpost past the Sharks’ goal keeper. Other key contributors were Alberto “Beto” Rodriguez and Kris Reyna, who had the other goals for the Apaches, and Tristan Gomez and Jonathan Tejada, who each had an assist.
Leo Moreno and Miguel Ramos were spotlighted by Holifield for their defensive play, while goal keepers Andres Govea and Aiden Hernandez each saw time in net and kept the Sharks off the scoreboard.
The Apaches held onto third place entering Tuesday afternoon’s regular season finale against Rockport-Fulton at Apache Field. The Pirates entered the contest having already clinched the district championship with a perfect 9-0 district record, averaging an unheard of seven goals per game.
The Tribe was up for the challenge, as they not only handed the Pirates their first district loss, but also shutout the high-powered Rockport-Fulton offense in a 2-0 win that clinched a playoff berth for Gonzales.
“I could not be more proud of the way our kids came out and rose to the challenge,” said Holifield. “Without a doubt, the player of the game...was Andres Govea.” The freshman goal keeper was solid in net, carrying the team with several key stops on goal in both halves. Kamren Cavit, Sebastian Matamoros, Alejandro Reyna and Clemente Govea were also highlighted for key contributions on defense.
Offensively, both teams battled gusting winds, but the Apaches were able to break through on the scoreboard when Lopez, still adjusting to a new position on the right wing, took a pass from Gomez and sailed it past the Pirates’ goalie. Gomez would later score a goal of his own, with an assist from Rodriguez.
The wins pushed the Apaches’ district mark to 5-5 and secured third place behind Rockport-Fulton and Port Lavaca Calhoun. Beeville and Palacios tied for fourth, a half-game back of Gonzales, but Beeville will be District 28-4A’s fourth seed, due to the Trojans winning the series against the Sharks.
As of press time, the Apaches’ playoff opponent has yet to be decided. Early indications point to the Pleasanton Eagles, but when playoff details become available, they will be posted to www.gonzalesinquirer.com and The Gonzales Inquirer Facebook page.