Victoria West's Eric Robinson fights with Tuloso-Midway's Kevin Avila for control over the ball during the first half of Thursday's Class 4A bi-district playoff game at Memorial Stadium. Tuloso-Midway defeated Victoria West 1-0. ANGELI WRIGHT/AWRIGHT@VICAD.COM
Originally published on Monday, January 14, 2013
Every time the Victoria West boys soccer program is mentioned in the media, Jose Olalde makes sure he saves a copy.
The senior defender may have a lot of work ahead of him if the Warriors' season resembles what was on the field last weekend at a tournament in Alice.
West (3-1-1) allowed just one goal in five games to kick off its season after four straight shutouts. The fifth game was a 1-1 tie with Gregory-Portland, which the Warriors eventually lost via a penalty kick shootout.
"I think it helped us with our confidence," said Victoria West head coach Bill Tally. "We're not going into a game unsure. We're going into a game confident that if you can play well you can win. You're measuring yourself against another team. Winning is always good, I think, for your psyche."
Though none of the five games was a full 80 minutes - the first four games were 70 minutes and the G-P game was 60 minutes - to play five games in two days, while conceding one goal in the process was quite a way to start the season.
"We got in shape more this year, than last year," said junior goalkeeper Juanito Gonzalez. "We just played and played. This year, it was conditioning and running and all that good stuff."
The expectations for the 2013 season may be higher, and West is installing a new system, but the Warriors are an experienced bunch that have played together for years. Gonzalez and Olalde, two of the all-tournament selections, are among the handful of returning starters.
Korey Parks returns as a center defender, Hector Mendoza will be West's center forward, while Eric Robinson, Danny Valadez as well as the Perez twins, Ernesto and Diego, all return from a 2012 team that went 12-11-2 before losing to Floresville in the Class 4A area playoffs.
Some of its substitutes have experience from last year like Nathan Hermes, Rudy Rocha and Qualian Bryant. Having so many returnees allowed the Warriors to hit the ground running.
"When the tournament (started) we said 'this will count on our record and we want to play our best,'" said Olalde, one of West's four captains this year. "We wanted to see how our team will do before district."
Tuesday, West heads south to Corpus Christi to face Tuloso-Midway. Though the Warriors are in the same district as Victoria West in football, basketball and baseball, this is a non-district contest.
It's a match that may be a playoff preview, as T-M is in District 60-4A, while West is in 59-4A. The match might also descend into a physical one, as was the case the last time these two teams squared off - a 1-0 West victory on Jan. 17 2012.
"They look like a solid team," said Olalde, who had a chance to watch T-M play over the weekend. "But they may not be the same team as last year. We're going in confident and going in for the win."