It was a frigid evening last Friday when the boy’s soccer team kicked off their season against a New Braunfels Canyon team that topped them 1-0 last year, in the same tournament. This year the team is ranked eighth in the city in the San Antonio Express News after returning a potent amount of starters.
The team’s starting 11 was comprised of five seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, and two freshmen. The team also was without three contributing players, coaches decision. The two freshmen, William Vidal and Samuel Villegas, would prove to connect early and often despite starting on opposite sides of the pitch, William at LM Samuel at RM. The two proved their worth with 2:32 left in the first half as Samuel sent in a precise cross that sailed across the box to the feet of William which he finished with ease. Now relaxed, the team was enforcing their will with impressive passing and impeccable defense. The second goal was added by Samuel when he navigated through the box and rifled in an unsavable shot. Sammy appeared calm and collected which is almost uncharacteristic for a freshman in their first game.
“I was pretty nervous because I was going against seniors and I felt like I needed more experience to know how the system worked in high school, but other than that I was feeling pretty good,” Villegas said.
The two newcomers were so dominant that the game felt like a friendly competition to one up each other. If it was, then Samuel came out on top when he finished off a nice ball from Chandler Farnsworth in the closing three minutes of the game to put an exclamation mark next to an already impressive scoreboard. When asked jokingly if there were any bragging rights over William after the first game Samuel gave the modest answer.
“Not really, we were just trying to do the best for the team, and we did pretty good,” Villegas said.
Saturday at 9 AM round two commenced, MacArthur vs Arlington Heights. Heights had stomped Steele 6-1 in the prior day’s match and came out of the gates strong controlling the possession early. MacArthur would return to form and capitalize on a counter attack with 10:57 left in the first half, when William Vidal fired a powerful shot which was saved but still loose, following up the play was William’s brother Ricardo, who sat out the first game vs Canyon. Ricardo tapped in the ball from less than a yard from the goal to put Mac up 1-0.
The next 30 minutes were a back and forth battle as both had ample opportunities to score, the Arlington equalizer was scored off of a cross from the wing that was punched in by their forward who was inside of the 6 yard mark. In an intense final 19 minutes, MacArthur controlled the possession. It appeared to only be a matter of time before they broke through, that time seemed to be with seven minutes remaining off of a free kick set piece that was scored in spectacular fashion, only to be ruled offsides by the line judge. The game would go straight to penalty kicks in an attempt to save time for the following games. Both keepers had chances to make game winning saves but it remained a perfect 4-4, Arlington would make the the following PK to put them up 5-4, then senior two-year captain Rox Guerrero stepped up, took the shot, and was unlucky as the keeper simply guessed correctly to win the game, sending Mac to the third place game.
The final game in the Alamo Heights invitational for Mac was against another Dallas team, this time the opponent was Waxahachie. The importance of playing time together and experience against a quality team is far undervalued. Neither the starting lineup or the bench rotations are in sync yet, and players need every moment possible against a quality opponent to improve on their chemistry. Unfortunately, the players appeared to be half interested in the first 20 minutes of the first half as Waxahachie ran through them to score two easy goals with 20 minutes left in the first half. After that slap in the face, the new motivation seemed to be to not get embarrassed. With half of the game over, the team finally played to their potential once again as they pushed forward with 25 minutes left and gave it to William Vidal down the left wing who crossed it to (who else) Samuel Villegas for yet another goal to make it a one goal deficit. With a real shot at going to PKs, the Brahmas pushed forward in hopes of another goal, however Waxahachie stifled all of their momentum with constant clearances and safe play. In the end Waxahachie won 2-1, however, Mac appeared to understand that when their foot is on the gas pedal, which it was in the second half, they are very tough to beat.
The boy’s soccer team has a solid back wall, a balanced midfield, and now, with the eruption of the two freshmen, the ability to score in multiple ways. The Alamo Heights tournament was an essential step to living up to their expectations set by last year’s team. The only difference now is that the upside is even higher than before, all because of two young players that will not show up on anyone’s scouting report.