HARLINGEN — The McAllen High Lady Bulldogs are a team better known for its offense, however on Tuesday evening the Lady Bulldogs had to rely on its defense to weather the storm against a physical Harlingen South Lady Hawks.
McHi junior Jackie Lemus’ 18th-minute header was enough to push McAllen into the UIL Class 6A regional semifinals for the sixth time and grab some redemption after last year’s area-round exit to the Lady Hawks.
The Lady Bulldogs now move on to play Austin Vandegrift on Friday at 3 p.m. at Blossom Athletic Complex in San Antonio.
“I don’t think this was our best game, but I credit Harlingen South for playing a great game. They stifled us where they needed to and they played well, and thank God we came up with one that got in,” said McAllen High head coach Patrick Arney. “Whenever we get a victory against South it’s awesome and the fact that we get to go to the regional tournament makes it even better. South has blocked us about three or four times and we’ve always come up short so it’s nice that we came out on top this time.”
With 18 minutes left in the first half, the Lady Bulldogs’ Lemus rose above the Lady Hawks’ defense and put away a corner kick to give the McAllen the 1-0 lead. The relentless Lady Bulldogs’ attack got a few more opportunities, but Harlingen South’s defense withstood any goals from the run of play and contained star Anna Hover.
For Harlingen South, it was another steady performance that kept them in the game and in end they were where they wanted to be.
“That was the game plan. It was always to control No. 19 (Anna Hover) and Emily Velazquez did a heck of a job on her tonight,” said Harlingen South head coach Omar Pedroza. “Our defense did a great job, Reid (Davis) made a couple of saves and we had a couple of chances. In the end that’s all you can do, you give it your best, come out with a game plan and stick to it.
“Last year we won 1-0 against them, this year they won 1-0, but I’m very proud of these girls and the way they played. You just have to look at some of their past scores and all the teams they beat, and it’s just incredible all the goals they scored, and for us to hold them to just one goal was outstanding.”
It may be the end of the season for Harlingen South; however Coach Pedroza was optimistic about next season.
“We are very young,” he said. “Mallory (Grannum) is a sophomore, Caroline (Grannum) is a freshman and my entire mid-field is coming back next year.”