BROWNSVILLE — Boys soccer and state championships have become synonymous with the city of Brownsville during the past two decades.
Four of the RGV’s seven state champs have come from a Brownsville ISD school, with Porter claiming two (2006, 2016) and Lopez (2004) and Rivera (2015) each winning one.
While teams like the Cowboys, Lobos and Raiders tend to garner the attention during soccer season, there is another Brownsville team competing at the TAPPS DII level looking to add its name to the list of RGV state champs.
After coming up just short a season ago, falling 2-0 in the TAPPS DII championship game to Legacy Christi Academy, the Brownsville St. Joseph Bloodhounds are gearing up for another run at etching their names into the history books.
“Obviously, when people in the Valley think of us, they think we’re not good at sports because we’re a smaller, private school,” Brownsville St. Joseph junior Claudio Torres said. “We just have to go out there and show them what we can do. Whether it’s football, soccer or basketball, they think we can’t compete because we’re a smaller school. We can, so we want to go out there and show what we can actually do and the talent we have.”
Leading the charge of the Bloodhounds this year is a dynamic one-two punch on offense of Torres and senior Diego Saldaña.
The striker duo ranks first and second on the team in goals scored, with Saldaña currently leading the RGV with 20 goals in nine district games played and Torres adding nine scores.
Behind the two-headed monster, the Bloodhounds are averaging 5.4 goals per game during district play, scoring two or more goals during eight of their nine district matches.
“This is our first year playing together as strikers, but I think we have really good chemistry between us,” Torres said. “We’re both very fast, and I think we both know what the other wants to do with the ball. Thankfully, we’ve turned it into goals. We just know what the other one wants to do and make it happen.”
The Bloodhounds also field a stout defense to complement their explosive offense, with the team allowing just 1.4 goals per game during district play.
More impressively, the defense has held five of its nine district opponents scoreless, allowing more than one goal in just two district matches thus far.
“I think our defense is really strong, because we still have a lot of the same guys from last year.” Brownsville St. Joseph sophomore center back Johnny Cardona said. “I learned a lot from the center back from the year before. I’m just trying to lead as much as I can. We get a lot of help from our midfielders. Other than that, we’re pretty strong. We have very fast wingers. I like to think that I control our defense as much as I can. Most of the time we’re just very focused on doing what we need to do.”
The Bloodhounds have looked like a state title contender during district play, closing out the first round of league action with a 6-0-0 mark. They outscored their opponents 29-2 during that span.
They extended their district winning streak to eight with wins over Victoria St. Joseph (7-4) and Laredo St. Augustine (7-0) before finally suffering their first loss to San Antonio Christian (5-0) on Tuesday.
Despite the loss, St. Joseph remains atop the district standings, sitting at 8-1-0.
With just three district games remaining before the start of the TAPPS postseason, the Bloodhounds are locked in on capturing the district title and ending the year at the top of the mountain.
“It would be awesome to bring home a state title,” Torres said. “Last year was the first time our soccer team ever made it to the state championship. We just fell short. It would be a really special moment for us, for the school and for the city to show what we can do.”
The first half of the 2024 boys soccer season has come and gone, with several of the RGV’s districts reaching the end of Round 1 of district play.
In District 30-4A, the Hidalgo Pirates (7-0-1) ended the first round of league play at the top of the table, holding a six-point advantage over Vanguard Beethoven (5-2-1).
The reigning Class 4A state champs outscored their opponents 36-9 during the first round of district.
In District 31-5A, PSJA Memorial (6-1-1) holds a slim lead over Sharyland High (6-1-1) for first, with the Wolverines on top with 20 points and the Rattlers in second with 19.
PSJA Memorial closes out the first round of district play against Edinburg Vela (0-7-1) on Friday, while Sharyland High finishes Round 1 against Sharyland Pioneer (5-2-1). A win by both teams sets up a battle for first to kick off the second round of district Tuesday.
The battle for the No. 1 spot in District 32-5A is air-tight as round one reaches its conclusion Friday, with Donna North, Brownsville Lopez and Brownsville Porter entering Friday in first, second and third, respectively. The Chiefs hold the top spot with 22 points, followed by Lopez (19) and Porter (18).
The Chiefs (7-0-1) and Lobos (6-1-1) face off in a battle for first place during the finale of the first round of district play at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Brownsville Lopez.
For a full look at Friday’s schedule and the latest district standings, visit www.rgvsports.com.