LA JOYA — For 74 minutes, the McAllen High defense kept La Joya Juarez-Lincoln’s high-powered offensive machine off the board. The Huskies, who entered the game averaging 5.2 goals per contest, couldn’t find space behind the Bulldogs’ stout defensive line.

That all changed with six minutes remaining. After winning a ball in the air, Juarez-Lincoln senior Roberto Morales tapped the ball to a streaking Omar Solis. The lanky striker corralled the pass in stride with just one defender to beat.

Before Solis could shoot, he drew a foul inside the box, setting up a penalty attempt for the RGV’s leading scorer in Class 5A. Cool and collected, Solis finished the play, sending the ball into the bottom right corner of the net for the go-ahead goal as the Huskies defeated the Bulldogs 1-0 during a Class 5A area-round contest Tuesday at La Joya Juarez-Lincoln High School.

“I feel very happy,” Solis said. “We struggled a lot, but we were able to finish it. I was feeling a lot of nerves as I walked up. But in the end it went in and we’re going to the third round.”

The victory sends the Huskies to the third round for the first time in five years, getting bounced in the second round each of those previous seasons.

La Joya Juarez-Lincoln will take on the Brownsville Lopez Lobos in a Region IV-5A quarterfinal at date, time and location to be determined.

“It was time,” Juarez-Lincoln head coach Victor Ramos said. “We had told the team going in that it was time. We’re a team that we need to be at that kind of level. We need to get to the third round and win regional championships. We hadn’t been able to win those games, but we did it today.”

With the teams in a scoreless draw at the break, the Bulldogs turned the aggressor during the second half, controlling possession of the ball and dictating the flow of the game.

McHi’s relentless attack nearly resulted in a goal on several occasions, living inside enemy territory for a majority of the half.

The Juarez-Lincoln defense didn’t budge, however, with senior goalkeeper Miguel Campos coming up with several timely saves to keep McHi at 0.

“Campos has just been so consistent like today all season,” Ramos said. “He allowed nine goals during all of district. It is hard to stop teams like that in all of district. He showed his skills today by not allowing any goals scored despite clear opportunities. He was big for us.”

The Bulldogs made one final push in keeping their playoff hopes alive during the final minute, getting inside enemy territory with the clock winding down.

Once again it was Campos and the Juarez-Lincoln defense coming up big, clearing the ball and running the clock out to end McHi’s season.

“I just wanted the time to end already,” Campos said. “That felt like the longest minute ever. I was screaming and talking with my team to make sure we defended the goal and kept them at zero. All thanks to my defense, we were able to do it and advance to the third round.”

The loss ends McHi’s best season in recent memory. They finished as district champs for the first time since 2016, sharing the District 31-5A crown with Sharyland High and Valley View.

The Bulldogs also earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2017, also picking up their first playoff win in six years with a 3-2 victory over Donna North in the bi-district round.

“Our season, like I told my guys, there is nothing to be ashamed of,” McAllen High head coach Fernando Segovia said. “We are district champs. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected us to beat Donna (North). And here tonight, we took them on and had them at zeroes all the way. It was a hell of a game.”

[email protected]