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Heat edges out Leones ; Laredo sits atop Mid South Division standings

Juan de Dios Ibarra battles for the ball
Juan de Dios Ibarra battles for the ball

May 23, 2009

Despite the Laredo Heat outplaying the Houston Leones for the entire game, the Leones were very much in it but ultimately fell 1-0 on Friday night at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex.The Heat held the Leones without a shot on goal and managed 14 of their own, but the only one that found its mark was a Juan De Dios Ibarra chip in the final minute of the first half.

With the victory and an Austin rout of El Paso (4-0) on Friday, Laredo (3-1-0, 0 points) finds itself very much alive in its attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open Cup Tournament.

With the race for the Cup so close the one-goal differential tempers the Heat's celebration a bit, but the silver lining is that their only loss was by one goal.

Dallas-Fort Worth plays El Paso tonight and West Texas on Sunday. By the time the Heat plays Rio Grande on Monday in Hidalgo, they'll know if they can qualify or not.

In the meantime, the club is content to be sitting alone at the top of the Mid South Division standings.

The Leones remain winless and fall to 0-3-1 on the season.

"We're happy with the effort we have been putting forth so far and the way we have been functioning as a team," Heat midfielder Danny Galvan said. "We did have some moments where we got tired tonight, but we'll take the three points."

The game plan for Houston was clear from the start - stay back and pounce with the counterattacks.

The only problem was that the Leones failed to muster much of a counter, as the Heat applied just the right amount of pressure throughout the contest.

Down by one goal, the Leones sent one more man up to attack, but found the net result the same.

They had their best chances late in the contest with direct kicks outside the Heat's area, but both came up flat.

While the Heat's goalie Ryan Cooper had an easy night, his counterpart was kept on his toes for the majority of the contest.

The Heat's best counterattack opportunity came in the seventh minute, when they managed to get into the penalty box only to have a Heat defender catch up and send it for a corner kick.

It was all Laredo from that point forward.

Of the 14 shots a handful were truly missed opportunities, starting with an Esteban Bayona shot to the lower left corner in the 16th minute that Houston keeper Lukas Simon managed to shove for a corner at the last minute.

The Heat finally broke through when Carlos Ordaz found Ibarra all alone in the middle of the area.

Ordaz flicked the ball to Ibarra, who then kicked the ball past a charging Simon.

The Leones played the final six minutes of the game, including five minutes of compensation time, down a man.

Juan Nava was ejected after a shoving match erupted in the 87th minute. Gregory Mulamba was shown the yellow card for his part in the ordeal.