Soccer: One step short – Bridgeport drops OT thriller to San Elizario in region final

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018
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Close Call

CLOSE CALL – Bridgeport senior Eric Aguilar goes for a ball in the Bulls’ 1-0 overtime loss to San Elizario. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

With neither side able to find a goal in the first 80 minutes, Bridgeport and San Elizario went to overtime Saturday in the 4A Region I final.

Fighting for a spot in the state tournament for the second straight year, the Bulls had a golden opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock in the 89th minute. After a throw-in from the corner, Bridgeport tracked down the ball and fired a shot on net.

It ricocheted off the crossbar and out of play.

Six minutes later, the Eagles scored the lone goal of the match in the 95th minute, breaking through the Bulls’ back line. Bridgeport keeper Jason Espinoza sprawled out in an effort to make the save, but was unable to keep it out, as San Elizario escaped with a 1-0 overtime win at Birdville ISD’s Fine Arts and Athletics Complex.

“It was a good shot,” said Bridgeport coach C.J. Cartwright. “[Espinoza] did a lot of good things. They had it on our half of the field for a good chunk of the game. He stayed on point. I’m not disappointed or upset with him at all.”

End of the Line

END OF THE LINE – Bridgeport’s Juan Amador dribbles around a San Elizario defender. The Bulls fell in the region final 1-0. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Bulls cleared away danger several times in the first and second half to keep San Elizario off the board. In the 31st and 57th minutes, San Elizario got behind Bridgeport’s defenders but were whistled for offside.

With under a minute left in regulation, Espinoza dove and made a save to deny the Eagles and force overtime.

“They’re a really good team, passing and possessing,” said Bridgeport senior Eric Aguilar. “We had a few chances we should have taken advantage of.”

Both teams battled 30-mph wind gusts for most of the match. Bridgeport held San Elizario at bay in the first half despite attacking into the wind. Cartwright said he hoped switching ends would make the difference in the second half.

“I thought we could get the wind in the second half and that would help us, but it really didn’t,” Cartwright said. “We tried switching up the formations and that didn’t work. I think we were kind of scrambling all over the place trying to make something happen.

“They move the ball really well. They deserved to win that game. They did a great job. We were on our heels the whole time.”

The Bulls ended their season at 21-4-1.

Bridgeport will graduate several starters, including Aguilar, Juan Amador and Miguel Olmos. The Bulls won their third straight district title this season and advanced to the regional tournament for the second straight year.

“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” Cartwright said. “It’s been such a great year. Not many teams get this far. [San Elizario] won the state championship two years ago. They’re top-notch and the best of the best.”

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