HARLINGEN — “They played us like it was the World Cup,” said Harlingen South head coach Julian Robles. “Crosstown rivalries are never easy games so we knew it was going to be a tough game coming in.”
Robles was describing the intensity of the emotional and physical battle of the boys Bird Bowl match against Harlingen High on Friday evening at Boggus Stadium. A contest where four yellow cards were shown and two penalty kicks were awarded.
Robert Rodriguez and Sean Muniz scored two second-half goals as the Hawks held on for a 2-1 victory over the Card.
“These kids grew up playing together so they know each other,” added Robles. “Hopefully this means good things for Harlingen as far as soccer is concerned.
“We got the three points and, for now, that’s all that matters.”
After a scoreless first half, South got on the board first. Rodriguez got behind a cross from teammate Joshua Jackson and headed in a spectacular goal to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the second half.
South began to get the offense going as the team passed the ball fluidly around the Cardinal midfield, while getting balls past Harlingen’s back four.
However, five minutes after South scored the first goal of the game, the Hawks gave up a penalty as a Cardinal player was fouled in the box. Harlingen’s Jose Cantu converted on the penalty by tucking it inside the lower right hand corner of the net.
With the game tied at 1-1 and 22 minutes left in the game, Harlingen goalkeeper Rick Deleon made an error.
After receiving a go-ahead pass, South’s Jose Lerma had only Deleon to beat. However, Deleon tackled Lerma inside the box, giving the Hawks’ Muniz the opportunity to put away the deciding goal.
“I told the kids that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” said Robles. “They have to understand that they need to calm down and do what we do best, which is creating opportunities.”