HARLINGEN — What began with a goal at the beginning of the season has become reality for the Harlingen Cardinals now at the end of the regular season.
After a decade of being on the outside of the postseason looking in the Cardinals are officially back in the postseason with a dramatic 2-1 victory over the San Benito Greyhounds Monday afternoon at Boggus stadium.
At the commencement of the district season first-year Harlingen head coach Johnny Guillen set one specific goal for his team: make the playoffs.
After a heart-pumping final 10 minutes to the contest, Harlingen is set for its first playoff appearance since 2008.
“The season comes in three phases and this was our main goal and do something that hadn’t been done in 10 years and get back into the playoffs,” said Guillen. “Our team is really young and we had about three seniors out of 22 players so we have three or four starting freshmen that start for us.
“I told this team at the beginning of the year that it was going to be a tough task coming in and trying to rebuild the program that had won three games in the past five years. And to come back and make the playoffs, even though if its just a fourth seed, is just a big accomplishment.”
However, the contest wasn’t without an action-packed ending. After each team scored one goal apiece in the first half, freshman Jose Garcia notched his second goal of the game after striking the ball through the legs of the keeper to put the Cardinals up 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining in the contest.
Despite being down to 10 men, San Benito went in search for the equalizing score and almost found it in the dying moments of the game.
With five seconds left on the clock, the Greyhounds were awarded a penalty after a player was taken down in the penalty area.
Unfortunately for San Benito, Omar Garcia’s strike went just wide of the post.
Harlingen will now turn its focus to the Class 6A bi-district and a possible matchup against PSJA Southwest.
Lady Cardinals defeat San Benito 4-1, get the third seed in the district
HARLINGEN — Harlingen’s Kay-Lani Vasquez struck three times and Monique Rodriguez added an insurance goal as the Lady Cardinals defeated the San Benito Lady Greyhounds 4-1 Monday afternoon at Boggus Stadium.
The win secured the second seed for the Lady Cardinals who finished the season tied with Harlingen South with 33 points after the Lady Hawks defeated Brownsville Rivera 4-0.
“We started off in spring break mode (slow),” said Harlingen head coach Debra Galvan with a chuckle. “In the second the girls did what we asked them too and we knew we had to win to tie for the second spot depending on what happened to Harlingen South.”
After an even first half where Effie Coronado (San Benito) and Kay-Lani Vasquez (Harlingen) each notched a goal, the Cardinal attack came to life and saw Leah Leal connect with Vasquez within five minutes of starting the second half to give Harlingen a 2-1 lead.
Two minutes later Rodriguez slotted home the Lady Cardinal’s third goal of the afternoon.
“Kay-Lani really stepped it up and her speed helps a lot in the front,” said Galvan. “The girls, for the most part, passed the ball good along with their communication which is something that we try to instill in them which is looking really good.
“But I tell the defense that it starts with them because if they let it up something can happen. It goes from defense to mid to forward and the team did well today.”
Despite holding a 3-1 lead the Lady Cardinals kept their foot on the gas pedal and added a fourth as Vasquez beat the Greyhound keeper to the near post.
After the contest, Harlingen South won the flip and was the awarded the second place seed in District 32-6A, while Harlingen received the third seed and will play Edinburg Vela with the location and time yet to be determined.
Los Fresnos won the district title and, despite the loss to the Lady Hawks, Brownsville Rivera secured the fourth and final seed in the district.