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Heat advances to Conference final

Heat advances to Conference final

Beats Ocala 2-0

By CLARA SANDOVAL
LAREDO MORNING TIMES

AUSTIN — Laredo’s second-half surge netted them two goals as the Heat beat the Ocala Stampede 2-0 on Friday in the Southern Conference playoff opener.

The Heat moves on to the conference championship in Austin today at 7:30 p.m. against the host Aztex in an all-Texas title game.

Both teams split the season series 1-1, with each squad winning 1-0 at home.

The Heat and Aztex were the top finishers in the USL Premier Development League’s Mid-South Division in 2013.

Austin had 35 points after going 11-1-2 in the regular season while Laredo finished in second with 28 (8-2-4).

“We just want to make sure the team recovers because it takes a toll on the body for the athletes to be playing back-to-back games,” Laredo coach Fernando Hernandez said.

“We are just hoping to recover well so we can play a great game Saturday.”

Laredo should be used to hot weather since the Gateway City is known to consistently hit the triple-digit mark thoughout the summer, but it was still a factor early on the game.

“The heat made the work harder out there,” Hernandez said.

“I like that because despite the heat we were able to control the game.

Despite good ball movement early, the Heat could not find the back of the net in the first half despite a 13-2 edge in shots over Ocala.

They finished with a 25-4 advantage.

“I always feel that the first half it is difficult to score because both teams are very concentrated on the game,” Hernandez said.

In search of a goal, the Laredo offense played aggressive and was whistled for nine fouls on the night. The Stampede finished with four.

Ocala’s Keneth Hogg was given a red card and ejected from the game at the 40th-minute when he kicked Yair Hernandez, who was attempting to bring the ball up the field.

Hernandez was visibly shaken up but stayed in the game.

Meanwhile, the Stampede had to play the remainder of the contest with 10 players.

In the second half, Laredo found their footing on the field as the game was winding down.

The Heat finally got on the scoreboard in the 72nd-minute of the game.

Juan De Dios Ibarra was awarded a penalty kick after Ocala’s Liam Goulay was called for a handball inside the box.

Ibarra did not waste the opportunity as his kick sailed passed goalkeeper Lex Craggs for a 1-0 Laredo lead.

“I just took the penalty kick and scored, making sure that I hit that upper left corner,” De Dios Ibarra said.

“It was tough to play in this weather and we had so many opportunities in the first half.”

The Heat did not sit on their one-goal lead as they continued to put on offensive pressure in search of that insurance goal.

They got just that in the 80th minute as late substitution Joao Monteiro took a ball deep in Stampede territory off of a pass from Ibarra and kicked the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

“I came in with 10 minutes left in the game and did not have to much time to score,” Monteiro said. “I just took the assist from Juan and scored.”

The two goals would be all that Laredo’s defense and goalkeeper Emanuel Farias would need as they grabbed the victory over the Stampede.