The La Vernia Bear soccer team got off to an early 1-0 lead in their first playoff game against the Corpus Christi London Pirates March 23 at Bear Stadium, and held on tight until the final whistle blew.
The Bears got right to work on offense, with Brian Beltran and Giovanny Cruz getting off several shots in the first few minutes. But it was Pedro Carranza who took the ball up the middle and tapped it around the goalie to bring the score to 1-0.
Carranza and Beltran continued their attacks, while midfielder Eduardo Cruz continued to feed them on the right. These were continually thwarted by a skilled, and now very alert, Pirate goalie.
Farther back on the right, the human wall known as Devin Goddard turned away several London attacks. He also sent in a beautiful free kick from the 50-yard line for a close header attempt by Carranza in the box.
As the half came to an end, the Pirates ramped up the pressure on the Bear defense, but Carranza had the final word with an on-target bicycle kick in the box off a nice cross by Ricky Guzman.
Rudy Cruz was a force to be reckoned with in the second half, with several shots and steals. Ruben Rodriguez continued his role as a goalkeeper for this game, filling in for red-carded Bryce Crane. Rodriguez had a clutch sliding save 10 minutes into the half.
“Today, he made some miracle saves, and it was those saves that propelled La Vernia into the next round,” said Head Coach Jose Carranza.
The pace of the match continued to rise, along with the number of fouls. Hunter Skrzycki was responsible for several key clears in defense, including one from the goal line as the last man. The audience counted down the last few seconds, and the Bears had their second Bi-district championship in a row.
La Vernia (12-6-1, 5-0-1) will play its March 31 Area game at Bear Stadium as well, where the Bears will get their rematch against the Progreso Red Ants, who defeated them in last year’s Area match.