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Soccer: One step away – Bulls hold on, will play for state berth

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, April 8, 2017
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Thrill of Victory

THRILL OF VICTORY – Bridgeport fan Bryce Powers storms the field to greet the Bulls at the close of their 4-3 win over Dallas Life Oak Cliff in the 4A Region I semifinal Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Juan Amador provided a solid opening act for the Bridgeport Bulls Friday, rattling the nets for a pair of goals in the first 10 minutes.

But after a frenzied finish to the first half by Dallas Life Oak Cliff cut Bridgeport’s three-goal lead to one, the Bulls called on Amador to be a closer in goal for the final 40 minutes.

The Bulls’ leading scorer in the playoffs proved to be up to the task, turning away three shots, including a blast from the corner with 13 minutes left that he managed to get a hand on, preserving the Bulls’ 4-3 victory in the Class 4A Region I semifinal.

“I tapped it. It was close,” Amador said. “If I wouldn’t have tapped it, it would have gone in.

“It was stressful [the second half]. We got a couple of yellow cards. But we never give up. As a team we keep fighting.”

Fighting for Ball

FIGHTING FOR BALL – Bridgeport’s Efrain DeLuna batls for the ball with a Dallas Life Oak Cliff player during the Bulls’ win Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Bulls will now fight for a spot in the state tournament. In just its second season, Bridgeport will play in the region final at 1 p.m. Saturday against Argyle or San Elizario at the Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex in North Richland Hills. The winner will advance to Wednesday’s semifinal in Georgetown.

“It’s been an incredible run, and we’re not ready for it to be over anytime soon,” said Bridgeport coach Ben Parks.

After scoring four goals in the first 27 minutes and taking a 4-1 lead on Efrain DeLuna’s solo run, Bridgeport had to hold on and fight through four yellow cards, the heat and fatigue. The Bulls finished the game down three starters, including DeLuna.

“I’ve got warriors. I’ve got good soccer players, but I’ve got warriors. They just embody perseverance, teamwork and dedication to each other,” Parks said.

“Their willingness to forgo playing soccer, dig down and win the game – that’s what they did the last 15 to 20 minutes.”

In front of Amador, Bridgeport stalwart Eric Aguilar and the rest of the defense limited the Dallas Life Oak Cliff attack three second-half shots.

“Eric is an outstanding player. The whole defense did a great job,” Amador said.

Aguilar’s best work came four minutes before halftime. With an open goal behind him, he stopped a ball in the box to prevent the equalizer.

“He saved a goal with his head,” Parks said.

Amador, who scored four goals in the area round win, gave the Bulls a fast start. Amador beat the Dallas Life Oak Cliff keeper to the far post in the second minute. Eight minutes later, he buried a shot in the net over the keeper.

Jesus Aguilar’s work in the corner set up Milton Iniguez’ goal in the 17th minute that put Bridgeport up 3-0 in what appeared to be a runaway.

Dallas Life Oak Cliff quickly tightened the game. Ricardo Rodriguez and Jose Rodriguez booted in loose balls around the box before Jeffrey Torres headed in a high bounding ball in the 34th minute to make it a one-goal game.

Bridgeport made sure that goal never came.

“We had to find something when there’s nothing left in the tank,” Parks said. “I challenged at the beginning of game, ‘y’all have been a good team; let’s go be a great one.’ They showed me and everyone else that tonight. We’re ready to continue the challenge.”

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