The El Campo Ricebirds played near-perfect against the Wharton Tigers Monday night at Ricebird Stadium, but still found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-nil final.
Tiger sophomore Josh Rivas provided the only score Monday night, on a penalty kick with eight minutes left in the game.
The Ricebirds (3-3-2, 1-1-1) offense controlled the ball and had 18 shots on goal compared to Wharton’s six.
“It was unfortunate but we’ve got to capitalize and we’ve got to do the little things right,” Ricebirds coach Matthew Sohrt said. “We have to work together as a team and we’ve got to get better as a team.”
The Tigers (5-4, 2-1) had a hard time getting possessions on El Campo’s side of the field. However, one mistake late in the second half, on a challenge inside the box set Wharton up with a penalty kick.
Tied nil-nil, the Tiger sophomore, with his right foot, sent the ball to the left side of the goal. The shot, beat El Campo’s goalie, who dove right.
“I just was trying to get my breathing right and stay calm,” Rivas said. “(El Campo) has a great keeper, but I knew I could bury it in the bottom corner.”
Seconds earlier, El Campo’s 17th shot on goal nearly put them on the scoreboard. The Ricebirds stole a pass around mid-field and sent the ball over Wharton’s defense. El Campo junior Sirapong Muanpet ran past two Wharton defenders, caught up to the pass, made a couple of quick touches, and kicked the ball towards the neat, but it was wide of the goal post.
After Wharton’s score, El Campo came inches from tying the game. Off a corner kick, Ricebird sophomore Diego Del Agua Padron sent a header towards the goal, only to have it punched out by Wharton’s goalkeeper.
In the first half, the Ricebirds offense did not lack opportunities with 11 shots on goal and one penalty kick. Despite the looks, nothing went in. To close the first half of play the Ricebirds had a series of shots on goal in quick succession, only for the Tiger goalkeeper to grab save after save.
El Campo’s constant offensive pressure gave Wharton’s backline problems, but they weathered the storm. The Tigers rotated goalies, using a fresh keeper each half. Tiger junior Juan Quiroz had the first half and sophomore Eli Ventra got the second.
“I’m glad we got the result, El Campo probably deserved (the win). But in soccer, it’s not about (who) deserves it,” Tiger coach Julio Delgado said. “They had their chance on their (penalty kick), we got our chance and we put it away.”
The Wharton Lady Tigers got both their goals in the second half, handing the El Campo Ladybirds a 2-nil loss at Ricebird Satiudim Monday night.
The Lady Tigers (5-3-3, 2-1) controlled the ball most of the night, but Ladybirds (3-9-2, 0-3) defense kept them off the scoreboard until midway through the second half.
At the 22 minute mark in the second half, Lady Tigers junior Aaliyah Rodriguez won a challenged kick on the 10-yard-line in El Campo’s side of the field. The ball bounced high in the air, just over the Ladybirds goalkeeper. The Lady Tigers found a little more luck two minutes later, with a kick that skirted the top of the goal post. The ball landed right in front of Wharton senior Ashley Guajardo who buried the ball into the back of the net for the Lady Tigers final score.
Wharton outshot the Ladybirds 13 to 7.