Following the Tigers’ 2-0 win over Wharton last week, Sealy head coach Juan Perez noted that he wanted to talk with one of his forwards in order to calm him down a little bit when he got in close.
Clearly, that message struck a chord and Sealy reaped the rewards by claiming victory Friday night on the back of a hat trick from sophomore Ricky Avila.
It was the Navasota Rattlers who played the role of visitors to T.J. Mills Stadium and they were greeted very coldly with a pair of goals in each half.
On top of that, Tiger goalkeeper David Gomez built an impenetrable wall in front of his goal and none of the Rattlers’ shots found the back of the net.
It was Avila who opened the scoring, being led all the way past the defense leaving him alone with the Navasota keeper who decided to jump out and pressure the attacker, opening himself up to a lofted shot which Avila came through with to put Sealy in front 1-0 early.
Fellow underclassman Erick Balderas added a goal in similar fashion, using his speed and a well-placed pass to gladiator off one defender and provide a strike that found the back of the net and the Tigers took that 2-0 lead into the break.
Avila wasn’t finished, however, and added two more goals before the final whistles but, of course, none of it would have been possible without his teammates.
Those passes led him out in front and he noted of the Rattlers’ defense; “I saw their speed and matched it with mine and just took off,” he said.
Perez explained after the game just exactly what his message was that seemingly put Avila exactly where he’s supposed to be.
“I told him to take the chances and he did,” Perez noted. “He had a couple nice ones, easy shots.”
That’s exactly what he had been looking for and mentioned that although this year may be a little changed from last year, it’s for the better.
“We’re playing different but I don’t have better players, they want to play,” Perez said simply. “We don’t have stars; everyone’s playing on the same level.”
That has translated into a pair of consecutive wins on their home field to start the season and begin to carry momentum into the rest of their schedule which had Bellville as the very next opponent.
Through the first half there no scoring and only a few shots on net leaving the rest of the game up to the final 40 minutes.
It was the visiting Brahmas that drew first blood, scoring just over three minutes into the period on what Perez mentioned was a mistake.
“I was telling my players to keep the ball and not lose it,” he said. “In the first half we lost it and they went all the way down the field and almost scored. So I was telling my guys that and one of them lost it, way too close to the net, and they scored.”
However, he knew his offense was not done, more specifically, Ricky Avila.
He again played the role of catalyst, providing a pair of goals just about three minutes apart to erase the only deficit the Tigers have faced on their home field so far, spoiling the visitors’ mood.
The goal that ended up serving as the game-sealer started off as a possibly difficult play, but soon enough Avila was all alone with nothing but the ball and an empty net.
He was again fed a long lead pass that put him in front of two defenders, forcing the goalkeeper to make a decision. He decided to come out and Avila made one touch, maneuvered around him and tapped the ball home nice and easy for what he said was “most definitely” the easiest goal of his career.
It was a monumental one at that and one that personified the message that Avila said the squad felt, knowing they didn’t want their rivals coming in and stealing a win.
“We wanted to keep our heads up it doesn’t matter,” he said in response to Bellville scoring first. “They’re not going to beat us at our home.”
Perez added the want to avenge the penalty-kick loss to the Brahmas and knew how important this win was, over a solid team, on their home field.
“They have a nice way to play but if you don’t let them, they can’t play,” Perez said. “It’s a nice feeling because they won against us only once in penalty kicks we had only 11 guys that day so we’re going to try to keep winning because, as you said, they’re our rival.”