Coming off a trio of wins at the Madisonville Showcase, the Sealy Tiger soccer team notched a 3-0 win in its first action at home over a La Grange Leopard team that will serve as the opening-game opponent in this weekend’s Brenham Tournament.
The Tigers closed their 2019 season with three straight wins at home, two of which were of the postseason variety, and junior Ricky Avila talked about what it was like to return to the pitch.
“It feels amazing, been waiting all year to get back out here,” he said although he had just been in the stadium a couple of months ago kicking the American football for the Tiger gridders, earning second-team all-district kicker honors.
Back on the soccer field, however, he found his rhythm once again, converting a pair of second-half goals to secure the first win at home in as many chances.
It was his teammate, senior Jose Luis Arriaga, who opened the scoring in the latter stages of the first half with a header off a corner-kick opportunity from the foot of David Dominguez to provide all the breathing room necessary according to head coach Juan Perez.
“We controlled the game and when you have the control, you wait for the team to score and you know that’s it. 1-0, 3-0 it doesn’t make a difference,” he said.
Avila agreed the first goal was big and also took into consideration that they will be seeing this team a mere four days later and stored away information for later.
“I was happy for him because we got that lead and that’s what gave us our confidence and boosted us up in the second half,” Avila said of Arriaga’s goal. “We got to see how they play because we’re going to play again on Thursday in Brenham so we got to see what they’ve got right now and we’ll be ready for the next one. I was seeing that they were pushing back a lot so that messed up my game a little but it was all passing with the teammates that made it happen.”
The offense was surely humming, just as it had been in last weekend’s tournament in Madisonville where Sealy piled up the goals while allowing barely anything in return.
“We won three games and tied the other; we beat Hempstead in the first game, Madisonville in the second game, tied and lost in penalty kicks to Montgomery, and then defeated Crocket,” Perez said. “I lost count keeping track of how many goals we scored because we have the forwards, I was complaining about it last year, this year we have options; we have Erick Balderas, Ricky Avila, Amador Lopez, Jose Luis Arriaga on the side. We’ve been saying that we got rich because we have better players who are also well-behaved.”
Avila concurred that with a similar nucleus to last year’s team, this year’s squad has even larger expectations.
“The chemistry is pretty much the same as last year so I wouldn’t expect nothing different from last year other than go farther in the playoffs,” he said.
2019’s appearance in the regional quarterfinal was Sealy’s deepest postseason run in over a decade and came to an end at the hands of the district rival Fulshear Chargers who claimed the District 23 title and finished as regional finalists.
Heading into this weekend’s tournament in Brenham, Perez looks forward to gaining experience by playing the more difficult teams from mixed classifications to help the team down the road.
“We need to learn because last year we lost against Fulshear and I know Fulshear is good and everyone says that and I agree,” the coach said. “But to get better you have to play against those teams and beat them, that’s the only way.”