By Pat Turner
Jay is starting to put things together at the right time on the soccer field.
Smoother passing and ball movement has improved the scoring opportunities. The defensive play is also more aggressive. Most important, the Mustangs are finding ways to finish.
Because of the progress, the Mustangs are sharing first place with Marshall in District 28-6A with four matches remaining.
“We’re happy to be where we are at this point,” Jay coach David Johnson said. “I’m really pleased with the combination of our play. We’re moving the ball really well. We have different players scoring for us. They’re all willing to work hard and it’s showing for us.
“But it’s coming down to the end and we know it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to come down to the wire. We have to keep pushing.”
The Mustangs’ all-around play this past week propelled them to the top. While Marshall (13-2-4, 9-1-4) topped Clark, 1-0, and battled Brennan to a 1-1 tie, Jay clamed a 3-0 win over Holmes before pounding out a 4-1 victory over Warren.
Against Holmes, Oluwatimileyin Talabi scored two goals and assisted in a score for Ulisses Pinon.
The Mustangs took a bigger step against Warren (11-3-4, 8-2-4). The two teams, who fought to a 0-0 tie in the first meeting, were tied for second going into the contest.”
So, getting a victory was crucial in staying in the hunt for a district title.
Warren, which began the week in a 1-1 tie with Stevens, got an early 1-0 lead on Isaiah Simien’s goal. The Mustangs quickly countered.
Taking a feed from Josh Reyes, Pinon lined a shot into the net to tie things up, 1-1 with 17:45 remaining. Later in the half, Talabi slipped past the Warren defenders and put Jay in front with a goal on a pass from Reyes.
However, the Mustangs found their touch for two more goals in the second half. Jonathan Gonzalez, who also played a big role on defense, kicked in a goal on an assist from Pinon and then set up a goal for Talabi.
Defense was also stout. In addition to Gonzales, Jack Tablizo, Roberto Lopez and Diego Jasso helped the cause, along with goalkeeper Timothy Gonzalez, who used his acrobatics to record six saves.
“The first time we played Warren was a battle,” the Jay coach said. “We knew it was going to be the same. I was really proud of the way our kids came out and played. We didn’t give up. I was pleased with the way they handled adversity of getting down 1-0 and coming back. We always preach a team effort and we got that.
“At the end of the day I was pleased with the way we finished. Sometimes we have been up and gave up a goal. But we’ve been focusing a lot on finishing and it showed.”
Marshall, however, is still going strong, too.
Defense was the key to the win over Clark as the Rams shut down the Cougars while getting the game-winning goal from Kevid Alvarez on an assist from Efren Duarte.
While Jay, Marshall and Warren’s playoff hopes are looking secure, the fourth position is still undecided. However, O’Connor (11-6-1, 8-5-1) moved into the spot after a 2-0 victory over Taft and a 3-0 win over Brandeis.
Nathan Blake and Hector Jaquez scored the goals against Taft. In the Brandeis match, John Camacho and Christopher Marcus connected, while Jonathan Anguiano also helped with a goal and assist.
Brennan (11-5-2, 7-5-2) fell to fifth after ties with Marshall and Brandeis (6-7-5, 4-5-5), but the Bears are still in the running for a post-season shot.
Harlan kept its playoff hopes in good standing this past week in 28-5A.
The Hawks (10-6-3, 8-2-1) started off with a 6-0 crunching of Floresville with Eric Caballero and Tomas Olivares leading the charge with two goals. Avery Richards sparked the offense with three assists.
Harlan then pulled out a 1-0 win over Southside on a goal from Aaron Mitzelman.