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Bears maul Lions, secure Area championship

Bears maul Lions, secure Area championship
Mike Stahl Conductor Brayden Johnson draws out a lovely rendition of “Cielito Lindo” from his fellow players for the La Vernia fans after their April 1 victory against La Feria.

The La Vernia Bears are soccer champs! The Bears routed the La Feria Lions, 3-1, during their first playoff match April 1, after receiving a bye for the bi-district game.

La Vernia took control early in the game, repeatedly feeding Miguel De La Torre the ball up the side, who sent or dribbled it into the Lions’ domain.

Ten minutes into the half, Saul De La Torre was taken out from behind in the box, resulting in a penalty kick, which Miguel De La Torre sent in to bring the score to 1-0, La Vernia.

The cheer squad began throwing candy to the audience. Miguel De La Torre decided he was going to give a treat to the audience, as well, and took the ball into La Feria’s box by himself, sending it to the back of the net to bring the audience to their feet and the score to 2-0. Despite limping from a hard tackle, he still managed to send a couple more passes inside before being subbed out.

La Feria began to pick up its game at this point as the Lions adjusted to the Bears’ physically aggressive playing style. They managed to send a few shots at the goal, which keeper Shane Thrailkill handled and then, to vent his disapproval, punted the ball nearly all the way back into the Lions’ box!

Thrailkill was taking over for keeper Bryce Crane, who suffered a concussion earlier in the season. “The doctors said it was the worst one they’d seen,” he said. “I just started walking eight weeks ago. Next week I’ll be lifting weights.”

Thirty minutes into the half, Matthew Montogomery drew a gasp from the crowd when he sent a loose ball inside La Feria’s box right into the crossbar

With 10 minutes to go, Miguel De La Torre was subbed back in and, along with Brian Beltran, began a relentless assault on La Feria’s defense, while the Lions tried to take advantage of any scraps left over.

A last-minute foul by La Feria in its own box didn’t impress the ref, who decided to end the half there, with the game still at 2-0, La Vernia.

The second half started off with a bang when Miguel De La Torre took the ball in on his own and chipped it over the goalie’s head for a hat trick, bringing the fans to their feet and the score to 3-0.

From there, the Bears were on fire, dominating all play in terms of skill and overall physicality, with multiple attempts on goal.

It wasn’t until later in the half that La Feria began to pick up the pace with a few shots of their own, which were again handled by Thrailkill. He wasn’t on his own back there though, when some fancy footwork by a La Feria forward got behind him and was barely tipped out by Brayden Johnson. La Vernia’s defense adjusted itself quickly to this new onslaught and closed up the holes.

On the other end of the field, the Lions managed to plug the holes in their own defense. This resulted in a pressure cooker-like situation for the two teams where the intensity on both sides began to build until, with 13 minutes left in the half, a foul in La Vernia’s box resulted in a Lion goal from a penalty kick, bringing the score to 3-1.

This only turned up the heat, with multiple shots on goal from both sides. The referee struggled to keep the game under control, as the foul count rose.

Nothing more materialized for either team, however, and the fans yelled out the final countdown before the whistle blew, marking the end to an exciting night for a soccer program that is only two years old.

“We’re a young team,” Coach Chris Taylor said. “But we push hard.”

“There is something to be said when a group of individuals come together with a common goal, such as our girls and boys soccer teams have done this year,” said La Vernia ISD’s Superintendent Josť Moreno.... “For a program as young as ours, we are off to an amazing start.... Although the Lady Bears soccer team were not victorious during last Friday’s playoff game against Port Isabel, our boys team are off to Progreso ISD for the Regional quarterfinals.... We are so proud of the energy, enthusiasm, and how proudly our soccer teams have represented and continue to represent La Vernia ISD.... Go Bears!”

The Bears played their Regional quarterfinal game against Progreso on April 5.

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