BROWNSVILLE — Brownsville Veterans Memorial lived up to its host billing by delivering another strong performance in the South Texas Futbol Showcase with a 2-0 victory over Harlingen South on Friday.
The Chargers got on the board within the first four minutes of the game when Ruben Garcia delivered a cross into the box and Felipe Esquivel headed the ball over the left shoulder of Hawks goalkeeper Dustin Sanchez.
Sanchez denied a point-blank attempt by Esquivel in front of the goal with 27 minutes to go in the first half.
Humberto Sosa’s corner kick at the 24-minute mark produced another chance and a flurry of motion in front of the net, though Sanchez pounced on the ball before the Chargers could get off a clear shot.
“They’re very good technical players,” Brownsville Veterans coach Alberto Vasquez said of Sosa and Esquivel. “They can create plays by themselves, for themselves. We would like them to be a little bit quicker on pulling the trigger, but we are creating opportunities. We want to finish them, not necessarily always with goals, but with quicker shots on frame.”
When Albert Maradiaga was tripped with 12:20 left in the first half, Sosa took a free kick from the edge of the box that sailed above the crossbar and through the uprights of the football goalposts.
Maradiaga and Erik Maldonado were effective at moving the ball upfield for the Chargers throughout the game, as Maradiaga led Maldonado to chase down long and mid-range passes to give Brownsville Veterans a few good looks in front of the goal.
“They’ve been working together for a while now,” Vasquez said. “Erik’s a kid who makes real good runs down the wing. When he’s on the field, Albert looks for him and tries to take care of those opportunities as quickly as possible. …. We say Erik is Albert’s little brother because he looks like him, but he’s about a foot shorter. Anytime they’re on the field together, they seem to find each other.”
Leo Torres took a free kick for the Hawks that sailed out of bounds with 3:30 to go in the period. Harlingen South struggled to maintain possession and failed to create a single scoring chance during the first half, which ended with the Chargers ahead 1-0.
Harlingen South’s Isaac Garza had a shot that glanced off the crossbar and out of play at the 35-minute mark of the second half, one of the best scoring chances of the day.
After South’s Luis Aguilar forced Chargers goalie Alek Gamez to make his first save on a shot from 25 yards out, Pablo Perez notched another goal for Brownsville Veterans with 25 minutes to play in the second half.
At the 7:29 mark, Garza had a breakaway and a 1-on-1 opportunity against Gamez, who fully extended to stop the South midfielder’s shot that was headed for the top left corner of the net.
Harlingen South coach Julian Robles said his team, comprised mostly of sophomores and juniors, is eager to begin district play and relished the opportunity to compete in the showcase.
“We played some high-quality teams,” Robles said. “(Brownsville Veterans) is one of the teams you want to play in the (Class) 5A division. We had our chances, and the goalkeeper came up with some great saves on their part. We had some shutdowns on defense. … We’re learning, but we’re getting a lot better right now. That’s what these games are for.”
Up next, the Chargers play host to Pace to open their District 32-5A slate at 5:30 p.m. next Friday.
“We’ve been playing well,” Vasquez said. “We’ve been getting better week by week, and we’re headed in the right direction. Next week is our first district game, and so hopefully things go our way.”
The Hawks are set to begin their District 32-6A season at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Los Fresnos.
South Texas Showcase
Pace 3, Laredo LBJ 2
San Benito 3, La Salle 0
Hanna 5, Laredo LBJ 0
Donna North 2, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln 1
Rivera 1, McAllen Rowe 0
At Brownsville Veterans
Lopez 5, La Joya High 3
Brownsville Veterans 2, Harlingen South 0