AP NEWS

Another nailbiter likely waiting for Lady Deer, Pearland soccer teams Tuesday

April 4, 2019

The neatest thing about April Fool’s Day for a soccer coach is that if your team is still playing on the day for pranks, it’s no prank, it’s not a gimmick, it’s not a trick.

So April Fool’s Day 2019 was nothing but serious business for the District 21-6A district and bi-district champion Deer Park High School girls soccer team Monday.

That business was practicing at Clyde Abshier Stadium and preparing for Tuesday night’s Area championship match with Pearland High School.

The contest is scheduled for the stadium on the Clear Creek High School campus in League City. The first kick is set for 7 p.m.

Neither team will be strangers to each other. The two met not only earlier this season with the Lady Deer winning 1-0, but Deer Park also eliminated Pearland from the 2018 state playoffs in a second-round match, winning that all-or-nothing contest by another 1-0 score.

“They’re a great team and they have great coaches over there. It’s going to be one of those battles where you go toe-to-toe. It’s never going to be a blowout because we’re both really good teams. We’ve gotten the breaks the last two times we’ve played them, hoping to get one more,” Deer Park coach Jesse Saavedra said Monday.

So based on those last two contests, getting a ball to the back of the net will very likely be well-earned.

“They’re a very aggressive team. Obviously, they’ve graduated several kids who are playing at the higher level. I know the first time we played them, they had a couple of injuries. The really don’t play with it a lot in the back. We try to control the game, we try to play the ball from the back. It’s going to be difficult but we’ll see if we can put some pressure on that back line,” Saavedra said.

Perhaps the greatest concern will be that at goalkeeper. Rachel Torres hasn’t had to rely on her skills very much this season as the team for the most part steamrolled over the competition.

Then came a 6-0 cakewalk over Pasadena Memorial last Thursday for the bi-district title. The Lady Oilers will likely give Torres more business than she’s been accustomed to seeing.

It probably won’t be much more, but if it’s a 0-0 game in the second half, Torres knows she’ll have one chance to play angles right, when to safely come out of the box and get the ball and how to properly play corner kicks.

Saavedra is confident that when push comes to shove, Torres, who’s been in the net for the Lady Deer since her sophomore year, will be ready.

“She’s really only given up two goals for the season. When I looked back at the film, they were set pieces and one of them, she couldn’t do anything about. Outside of that, she never really got tested. She’s a really good goalie but the good thing is I have two juniors and they compete really well together. Her best skill is our practices. It’s hard to simulate game-like situations, but I trust she’ll be all right,” Saavedra said.

Meanwhile, the Deer Park boys soccer team will travel to Krump Stadium Tuesday night to oppose Alief Hastings in a 6 p.m. start time.

ravery@hcnonline.com