By Rick Atkinson
For the Anna-Melissa Tribune
The 22nd-annual Denison Varsity Cup soccer tournament Jan 9-11 last was mostly wiped out by severe weather, snow and ice. Only the Jan. 9 matches were completed, with Old Man Winter claiming all contests over the next two days.
Anna’s Lady Coyotes (3-0-1), who were originally slated to play on Jan. 10 and 11 only, saw all of their matches cancelled.
Thursday’s action took place at Denison’s Munson Stadium and Anna’s Coyote Stadium.
In the Jan. 9 opener versus the Home School Athletic Association (HSAA) at Anna, the Coyotes prevailed 2-1 on Charlie Morales’ game-winning boot with twoseconds left in regulation. Morales’ clutch kick from the left side came after Oscar Jule, with time running out, inbounded the ball to Jesus Garrido who sent it into the post where it bounced out toward Morales.
Garrido notched the Coyotes’ first goal on a 55-yard free kick over the goalkeeper’s head in the first period. That lead held until 9:38 remained in the match, when HSAA knocked home the equalizer. Anna (3-3) outshot the Blue Angles 12-9.
David Joaquin was in goal for the Coyotes in the first half, and Philip Henson worked the second.
“It’s one of those games where I feel like we didn’t play our best,” Anna Head Coach Matt Ellis said, “but we were able to get a result against a team that had a lot of threatening play. They have some speed up-top and they have some skilled kids all over the field. … But the way we kept competing to the very end - and to score with two second left to win it - I mean, nothing feels better than that. It’s like a 3-pointer at the buzzer.”
Versus 4A Sunnyvale Jan. 9, the Coyotes (3-4) were nipped 1-0. Matches with 4A Dumas on Jan. 10 and 4A Caddo Mills on Jan. 11 were cancelled.
In earlier non-district action at Paris on Jan. 7, the Coyotes romped past 4A North Lamar 6-0 as Morales and Yahir Inzunza knocked home two goals each, and Diego Banda and Garrido added one apiece. Morales also posted two assists while Alex Granados and Banda each logged one. Anna led, 2-0, at halftime.
On Jan. 9 at Munson Stadium, the Lady Cardinals were edged by 5A Lake Dallas, 2-1. The Lady Falcons’ first point came on an own-goal in the 24th minute of the first period. That lead held until two minutes into the second period when Melissa (3-2-1) tied it 1-1 off a Kylie Kroese header that bounced off a Lake Dallas defender for an own-goal. The Lady Falcons got the eventual game-winner 20 minutes later.
Starting goalkeeper Anna Blankenship had three saves for Melissa and Abbey Maldonado came on to save five. Lady Dallas posted 10 shots-on-goal to six for the Lady Cards.
Melissa’s matches with 5A Palo Dura on Jan. 10 and 5A Birdville on Jan. 11 were cancelled.
Versus 5A Sherman (3-0-2) Jan. 9 at Munson Stadium, the Cardinals (1-4) dropped a 2-0 decision, with both goals coming in the second period. The match marked the Bearcats’ fifth-straight shutout on the young season.
Sherman’s Izak Mejia broke the scoreless tie with 16:04 left to play on a left-to-right shot off a Noel Martinez assist. Martinez soon came back with a goal of his own.
“The first half, we really defended well,” Melissa Head Coach Kelley Pitzer said. “We defended as a unit, all the things we’ve been working on in practice. Other than a few miscues in the midfield in the second half, we maintained our shape. … The downfall was we just lost a few runners coming through the middle.”
“They pressured us pretty good [in the first half],” said Eufracio “Chico” Aleman, now in his 35th year as Bearcats head coach. “Pressure does a lot of things, especially if you’re not ready. … They kind of caught us by surprise, so I think that [Pitzer] did a good job in preparing them for that.
“Of course, in the second half we made it a little interesting. We were releasing the ball a little quicker. We played the top pretty well.”
The Cards had a good chance to tie it at 1-1 on an Eric Ramirez-to-Luke Hansen give-and-go breakaway, but Hansen’s drive to the net was broken up by a Sherman defender who appeared to have a handful of jersey, but no penalty was called.
“That would’ve changed the dynamic a little bit,” Pitzer said, “but you can’t go back and change that.” He added that Hansen “would’ve buried it” from that range - six or seven yards out.
“They’re a good side,” Pitzer said of the Bearcats. “I have a lot of respect for them as players and for [Aleman] as coach. It was just one of those games. That’s why we play these tournaments - to get better.”
The Cards’ matches with 4A Sunnyvale on Jan. 10 and 4A Dumas on JAn. 11 were cancelled.
In previous non-district action, Melissa was topped, 4-0, by 5A Frisco Independence on Jan. 7 at Cardinal Stadium.