HIDALGO — The 12th annual East-West Senior All-Star Soccer Showcase presented by the Rio Grande Valley Soccer Coaches Organization proved to be quite competitive this year.
Both matches Saturday at Hidalgo’s Bill Pate Stadium went to penalty kicks, with the West girls and East boys triumphing by the same scores of 3-2 in PKs after 80 minutes of regulation. No overtime was played.
It was another split of the games, just like last year at Los Fresnos where the East girls won 3-1 and the West boys prevailed 3-2. In 2017, the event was played at Valley View with Class 6A and sub-6A boys and girls matches, and the West won all four games.
The girls match was played first in the morning Saturday. The East girls led 1-0 at halftime. The West girls went ahead 2-1 during the second half on goals by Sharyland Pioneer’s Olivia Vasquez and PSJA North’s Victoria Trevino.
The East girls evened the score at 2 with 14 minutes left in regulation. Scoring the East’s initial two goals were Edcouch-Elsa’s Jackie Reyes and Harlingen South’s Mellory Grannum. The East girls almost won in regulation as one of their shots went off the crossbar with 11 minutes remaining.
The East girls went first in the penalties. They held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 on goals by Edinburg North’s Dani Ortiz, Brownsville Rivera’s Hailey Pena and Weslaco High’s Dariana Jimenez. But the West girls rallied to win the PKs 4-3 thanks to goals by Vasquez, Trevino, McAllen High’s Miranda Munoz and PSJA Southwest’s Fahtima Rucoba.
Rucoba’s tally was the game-winner after the fifth PK attempt by the East girls was blocked, leaving the score tied at 3.
She knew she had a chance to win it.
“It was really nerve-wracking at first (lining up to take my PK),” said Rucoba, a senior left wing for the Lady Javelinas during the past season. “But I just relaxed and did my thing. The ball went in, so that was very good.
“It was an honor and a great experience (to play in this all-star game),” Rucoba added.
The boys match also featured a dramatic finish with 12 players — six for each side — taking PKs. Just like the girls, the boys ended regulation deadlocked at 2.
The East boys went first in PKs. The score became 3-3 before Progreso goalkeeper Arturo Gallegos stopped the shot of the fourth player to attempt a penalty for the West boys, and that opened the door to victory for the East.
Arturo Gallegos’ twin brother, Marcos, a senior forward for the Red Ants, made it 4-3 for the East before McAllen Memorial’s Jesus Rodriguez evened the score at 4.
PSJA Southwest’s Luis Gallegos recorded the eventual game-winner for the East by making it 5-4. The sixth and final PK attempt by the West went just outside the right post. On the play, East goalkeeper Jonathan Che of Edinburg High lunged out and got a hand on the ball to nudge it out, just to make sure it wasn’t going in.
So the 5-4 score in PKs wound up providing the East boys’ victory.
The win was set up by Arturo Gallegos’ key save. Like in the girls match, the boys teams alternated their goalkeepers.
“It was just based on working hard on the field,” Arturo Gallegos said of his crucial play during the PKs. “It was an honor to stop that shot to help give us the victory.
“It means a lot to play in a game like this,” he added. “I don’t really have the words to say what it means, but it means a lot to me and the other Progreso players who are here, too.”
The Gallegos brothers hope to play soccer at Laredo Junior College next school year.
Near the end of the first half, Arturo Gallegos recorded back-to-back saves on two rapid, successive shots from close range by the West. Those saves prevented the score from becoming 3-0 for the West.
The West boys, up 2-0 at intermission, were led by first-half goals from Saul Delgado and Francisco Guerrero.
The East boys forced the match to PKs thanks to second-half goals by Donna High’s Joel Hernandez and Donna North’s Rigoberto Escobar.