Brownsville St. Joseph was near perfect during district play this season, dropping just one game during the 12-game stretch.

Standing in their way of a second straight state tournament appearance this year was the same team that handed them their lone district loss – the San Antonio Christian Lions.

The Bloodhounds took care of business this time around, avenging their lone district loss and sending San Antonio Christian packing for the year, taking down the Lions 2-1 during a TAPPS DII regional championship game Saturday at Cabaniss Stadium in Corpus Christi.

“It can be considered tough (playing against a team like SAC), but at the same time it is an advantage for us since we know who they are and how they play,” Brownsville St. Joseph striker Diego Saldaña said. “Last game it didn’t go well for us, but we found our mistakes and fixed them and well it worked.”

The Bloodhounds jumped out early on the Lions during the first half, taking a 1-0 lead during the 16th minute on a goal by Saldaña.

A foul inside the box with just six minutes remaining in the opening period opened the door for the tie, with the Lions earning a penalty kick.

San Antonio Christian took advantage of the opportunity, with Caleb Schuetze converting the ensuing PK to send the game into the half tied 1-1.

With neither team able to take advantage during the second, the game seemed headed towards extra time, but a foul by the Lions set up the Bloodhounds with a penalty attempt for the win with just under five minutes remaining.

Cool and collected, Saldaña stepped up and put the ball into the bottom right corner for the go-ahead goal, sending his team to the TAPPS DII state tournament for a second straight year.

The goal brings Saldaña’s total to five during the postseason to go along with his team-high 26 goals during district play.

(Video Courtesy of Rio Sports Live Stream)

“I was nervous, but it was a good kind of nervous. I wanted to score that,” Saldaña said. “I was nervous but fully confident. I had to take it for the team, and I took it and it went in. I was happy. That’s it. I was very happy I got to score and sending us to the semifinals in Round Rock.”

The Bloodhounds turn their attention to the state tournament, scheduled for March 7-8 at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex in Round Rock.

They’ll take on the winner between TMI Episcopal and San Antonio St. Mary’s Hall at 10 a.m. Thursday during the TAPPS DII state semifinals. The Bloodhounds went a combined 4-0 against those two teams during district play, outscoring them by a combined score of 18-2.

A win Thursday advances the Bloodhounds to the TAPPS DII state title game for a second straight year. The championship game is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday.

“It means a lot to me (to go back to the state tournament),” Saldaña said. “Last year when we went I had a good time and enjoyed it all. Just being with my teammates and the environment, we just had fun.”

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