MISSION — After seeing their two-goal advantage evaporate early during the second half, the Sharyland High Rattlers found themselves with a throw in deep inside Corpus Christi Veterans’ territory with 15 minutes left in regulation.
Senior Gilberto Torres took possession of the ball on the throw in, splitting a pair of defenders before firing a shot directly at goal. Corpus Christi Veterans’ goalkeeper, Jace Nicolet, deflected the shot but was unable to corral it.
Streaking down the left side came Sharyland High forward Juan Pablo Treviño, locating the ball off the rebound and firing it into the back of the net for the game-winning goal, as the Rattlers downed the Eagles 3-2 during a Region IV-5A quarterfinal Friday at Richard Thompson Stadium.
“Everything just slowed down,” Treviño said. “It was just me and a wide-open goal. All I had to do was push it in. I just had to focus up and get it in.”
“The shot by Gilberto Torres, it didn’t look like it had much,” Sharyland High head coach Jorge Guerra said. “But then we got the rebound. That’s something we talked to the guys about all week. During the Rio Grande City game, we didn’t go in to put them in. This time, the guys took the shot and went in for the rebound and that’s what happened.”
The Rattlers advance to the regional tournament slated for April 8 and 9 at Cabaniss Soccer Field in Corpus Christi. They’ll take on the winner between Dripping Springs and Leander Rouse in the Region IV-5A semifinals at a time to be determined.
Trailing 2-0, the Eagles battled back, cutting into the deficit with a goal by Aiden Perales, capitalizing off a rebound inside the box.
The Eagles carried the momentum into the second half, erasing the Rattlers’ lead three minutes in on a laser-like strike from Stephen Volpe.
“I told the guys they were going to come at us,” Guerra said. “We just had to stay focused. They scored quick. But I’m glad on the way the guys reacted.”
The Rattlers came out as the aggressor, looking for their shot early and often. Their first goal came during the 15th minute, with junior forward Alan Guerrero dodging a sliding tackle and crossing a pass into the box to Jose Sanchez, who hammered the ball into the net.
Moments later, the energized Rattlers struck again, with Guerrero making one defender miss before finding a streaking Eliud Villarreal down the middle for the score.
“We told the guys we needed to stick to the gameplan,” Guerra said. “We just had to pass the ball from side to side and look for our shot. It doesn’t have to be a clear shot, we just have to take shots and make it happen and, well, it worked.”
Guerrero nearly tallied his third assist during the second, delivering a pass into the box to Torres, but Torres’ shot was deflected by a Corpus Christi Veterans defender.
Following Treviño’s score, the Rattlers buckled down defensively, holding the Eagles’ comeback attempt off and punching their ticket to the fourth round.
“These guys gave it their all,” Guerra said. “We told them it was going to be a tough game and it was. We were up 2-0 then they tied it 2-2. But we never stopped believing. We never stopped running and we got the result.”