Defending champs: Bulls beat Argyle for fourth straight district title

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 23, 2019
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Jusmping for Joy

JUMPING FOR JOY – Bridgeport soccer players celebrate a road victory over Argyle that earned them their fourth district title in the four-year history of the program. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

In the 63rd minute of Tuesday night’s decisive District 7-4A match, Argyle sneaked a goal past Bridgeport keeper Jason Espinoza to take a 2-1 lead.

The Eagles had dominated possession and looked poised to snap Bridgeport’s streak of three consecutive league titles.

“We gave up a pretty cheeky goal and then they scored a pretty quality goal,” said Bridgeport coach J.D. Bales. “You can’t do that against a really good team like that. Our guys just kept focused and kept their intensity.”

Making a Run

MAKING A RUN – Bridgeport’s Jonathan Juarez holds off an Argyle defender during a match Tuesday. The Bulls rallied to win 4-2, claiming their fourth straight district championship. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Less than a minute after falling behind, Edward Rodriguez chipped Argyle’s keeper for the equalizer. Then in the 73rd minute, Milton Iniguez rocketed home a shot to give Bridgeport a 3-2 lead.

Yobany Roman added an insurance goal in the 75th minute, completing a furious rally to take down Argyle 4-2 and send the Bulls home with their fourth straight district championship.

“For them to respond the way they did says everything about their character, heart and love of the game. It speaks volumes of these kids.” Bales said. “I think we finally settled down around the 65th minute. We started possessing, finding feet and playing the way we [know how]. Once it hit we just built off it.”

Bridgeport started the scoring in the eighth minute when Roman found Giovanni Martinez on a give-and-go. Martinez’ shot to the near post got by Argyle’s keeper to put the Bulls up 1-0.

Holding Him Off

HOLDING HIM OFF – Bridgeport’s Edward Rodriguez battles with an Argyle defender for possession during Tuesday’s match. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

For the remainder of the half, the Eagles controlled the match. Argyle outshot Bridgeport 11-8 through the first 40 minutes, forcing Espinoza to make several saves.

“He makes big saves and is a phenomenal keeper,” Bales said. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit for things, but he’s definitely kept us in a lot of games. Tonight, he made huge saves.”

Espinosa stopped 19 of Argyle’s 21 shots, including several saves at full stretch.

“I came out here and I had to do what I had to do,” Espinoza said. “I knew who these guys were and how they played. I just did my job and I love doing it.”

The Bulls improved to 13-5-2 and 6-1 in league play. Bridgeport ended the regular season Friday night against rival Decatur.

Since starting their soccer program in 2015, the Bulls have won a district title every year.

“It feels amazing,” said Iniguez, who scored the game-winner. “I’ve been a part of such a good team. The teammates before us laid down this awesome [foundation]. Now, we just have to carry it on for years to come.”

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