With the rare opportunity to play a high school soccer match in an MLS facility, Santa Fe head coach Charles Marsh said he noticed a little extra pep in his players’ steps during warmups for the District 22-5A tilt.
“They’re excited, they’re ready, and they’re moving quicker than I’ve seen them before,” Marsh said.
That turned out to be no bluff.
Playing under the bright lights of BBVA Compass Stadium, the Santa Fe Indians found some magic on the professional pitch Saturday night as they scored a 2-1 upset victory over the Texas City Stings.
Jason Montes scored both goals, Micah Cerda assisted on both goals, and goalkeeper Eli Hutson was magnificent between the posts for Santa Fe in a match where Texas City had everything to gain with the chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win. But, the Indians, entering the match at the bottom of the district standings, had nothing to lose — and they played like it.
Santa Fe came out with an ambitious attack and sturdy defense in the first half. The Indians knocked shots at the goal in the 13th and 18th minute before breaking onto the scoreboard in the 22nd minute.
Cerda dribbled through traffic and passed to Montes, who rocketed a ball into the back of the net from just inside the penalty box.
Texas City had some promising chances to score an equalizer late in the first half, but came up empty each time.
In the 33rd and 34th minutes, the Stings had free kick opportunities from the edge of the box, but the first attempt at a goal was off-target and the next was stopped by Hutson. In the 37th minute, Texas City was able to get a shot on goal off of a corner kick, but Hutson was again there for the stop.
The Stings showed more aggression in their attack coming out of the halftime intermission, putting seven shots on goal in the second half’s first 15 minutes, but simply couldn’t get a ball past Hutson’s mitts.
Santa Fe pushed its lead to 2-0 in the 60th minute when Cerda and Montes connected for a goal on the tail end of a counter attack.
Texas City finally broke onto the scoreboard in the 71st minute when a diving save by Hutson found the boot of Ricardo Robeldo from close range, and he guided the ball into the back of the net.
The Stings again had chances to equalize late in the match, but Hutson snatched away a nice corner kick in the 76th minute, and less than a minute later, Hutson made the save on a promising shot on goal.
Although they eventually came up on the short end, the Stings were equally excited to be playing at BBVA Compass Stadium before the match started.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Texas City head coach Jerson Carrasco-Martinez said. “The kids are excited, and I’m excited as well for them. It’s just one of those things where you’re going to look back in a few years and say, ‘I did play there.’”
The match was the culmination of months of discussion between the two schools and Dynamo management about the possibility of playing a district match at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Both teams will have spring break off before returning to 22-5A action 7:30 p.m. March 19. Santa Fe (3-8-1 in district) travels to Crosby (2-7-3), while Texas City (6-4-2) hosts Galena Park (4-5-3).