Elsik rallies for shot at repeat state title
Not any different than professional clubs celebrating league titles or national sides celebrating World Cups, there is a star above Elsik’s name on its jersey.
It signifies last year’s Class 6A state championship and after Saturday’s performance, it’s time to start thinking about adding a second star.
Elsik stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit with three second-half goals in a 3-2 win over Spring Woods to take a second consecutive Region III-6A title. It’ll be Elsik’s third trip to a state tournament since 2013.
The Rams (24-1-1) take on Flower Mound (19-3-1) in the state semifinals at 5 p.m., April 19 at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown.
Junior midfielder Edgar Renteria, one of Elsik’s big players on last year’s state title team, booted the ball right in front of the goal for the decisive score with 7:20 remaining in the match.
Spring Woods applied the pressure with first-half goals from Charles Grollitsch and Jason Martinez.
But with 24 minutes left in the match, Elsik junior midfielder Dandord Ndabah gave the Rams hope of continuing their title defense and Andrei Aguirre’s Tiki-taka goal 11 minutes later leveled the match.
Then, Renteria sent the Elsik side of Abshire Stadium into a frenzy.
“Thank God it went in,” the junior said, describing the goal. “Like I said, I wouldn’t have done it without my people, without my partners. It was a crazy game. (Spring Woods) was amazing, man. I can’t say enough about them.”
Elsik was somewhat handicapped heading into Saturday with senior midfielder Steven Guillen out because of a red card in Friday’s semifinal win over Tompkins. Plus junior forward Mayno Linares dealt with a lingering ankle injury from Friday’s semifinal. All that even forced Elsik to use a different formation than it was used to.
Spring Woods didn’t make it easier, of course, by putting Elsik in a hole early.
“I know this,” Elsik coach Vincenzo Cox said. “If it would’ve stayed longer at 2-0 then you start losing the odds in your favor. Once we get one goal and there’s enough time, I’m confident that we can put ourselves in a position to keep putting pressure on them and then hopefully we’ll get something good rolling our way.”
There was a scrum in front of Elsik’s goal in the dying seconds of the match that gave Spring Woods a shot at tying the game at three.
The Tigers’ five trips to the regional tournament — four since 2014 — have ended in heartbreak.
The Spring Woods soccer team was one half away from being the school’s first athletics team to play in a state semifinal since the volleyball team did so in 1988.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” Spring Woods coach Wadey Yaya said of Saturday’s match. “But at the end of the day, it’s a game. The best team at the end of the day finds a way to win. Elsik did it last night against Tompkins. They found a way to win and they did it against us today. But again, there’s nothing to take away from the heart that these guys possessed today and they gave it all they got. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”