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Heat prepares for playoffs

Heat prepares for playoffs

Playoffs set in Austin

By Adam Geigerman
Laredo Morning Times

Last week was an exciting one, to say the least, for the Laredo Heat Soccer Club.

First, the Premier Development League side clinched its ninth straight playoff berth out of the Mid-South Division.

That team then played its most rollercoaster-of-emotions match of the year, on Saturday against Midland-Odessa in a 4-4 draw that carried no implications toward the playoffs or really anything.

At the same time, the Heat’s Super-20 team competed in the Super-20 League Championships in Bradenton, Fla.

Despite going 1-2-0 (3 points), the organization will certainly be proud of qualifying as one of the league’s top 16 teams in both of its two years of existence.

With the PDL and Super-20 sides’ success, the Heat have never missed a postseason they were eligible for.

Last week’s fireworks have seemed to carry over into this week as well.

The team announced on Monday that it would face the Ocala Stampede on Friday in Austin at 5 p.m. in the Southern Conference Championships.

The Southern Conference scenario sets up with the top two sides from the Mid-South and the Southeastern Divisions, with the Austin Aztex (11-1-2, 35 points) and Heat (8-2-4, 28 points) representing the Mid-South and the Stampede (11-3-0, 33 points) and Panama City Beach Pirates (10-30-1, 31 points) coming in from the Southeastern.

Each division’s regular season champion (Austin, Ocala) will face the opposite division’s second-place team (Panama City Beach, Laredo) in a semifinal doubleheader on Friday.

The two winners from Friday’s semifinals will face off in the Southern Conference final on Saturday night, also in Austin, for the chance to compete in the PDL’s Final Four and, eventually, a national championship.

Since 2005, Laredo has finished first in the Mid-South six times (2006, ’07, 2009-12) and second just twice (2005, ’08).

It has lost in only two of the conference championship semifinals (2010, ’12) and played in four national finals (2006, ’07, ’08, ’11), winning its only league title in 2007.

The Heat split their season series with the Aztex, losing 1-0 in Austin but winning 1-0 at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex later in the season.

That was Austin’s only loss of the year; it went undefeated at home with a plus-20 goals differential at home.

Laredo went 2-3-2 on the road this season, scoring a plus-2 differential while posting a pair of cleansheets when playing away from the TAMIU Soccer Complex.