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RECAP: Late Penalty Crashes Laredo’s Attack vs. Brilla

Heat fall in crucial Mid-South matchup

CLINTON, Miss. – Despite the shaving away of one game on Saturday night, little changed in the Premier Development League’s tightly congested race for the playoffs in the Mid-South Division table. The most notable event came in the 89th  minute of the Austin Aztex, 2-1, victory over the second-place Midland-Odessa Sockers, allowing the Laredo Heat to keep pace just five points behind the Sockers for the final postseason qualification.

With that victory, the defending PDL champion Aztex (9-1-1, 29 points) clinched their second straight Mid-South title. The Heat (4-4-3, 15 points) were stunned in a 2-1 loss to the Mississippi Brilla in Mississippi via an 88th minute penalty kick.

The Heat now trail the Sockers (6-4-2, 20 points) by five points with a game in hand and friendlier schedule, but Laredo still needs help with its destiny out of its hands. The Heat face the Brilla in a pair of matches at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex next week before concluding its regular season at the Houston Dutch Lions. Both matchups come against the Mid-South’s bottom two teams, but both have claimed victory over the Heat this season. The Sockers face a final game against the Aztex – this time in Austin – before closing the season at Houston.

In order to convert the coup into the playoffs, Laredo could win out to claim nine points to finish at 24 points while Midland-Odessa could finish with a maximum of 26 points. Anything less than two victories would complicate the race for the final postseason berth – forcing it into a difference of goals scored and goals allowed or deeper into tiebreakers.

On Saturday, the match launched into a tailspin, with pair of successful strikes in the opening five minutes. The Brilla (3-5-3, 12 points) capitalized on a mistouched pass by the Heat, seeing Phillip Buffington slice toward the net to beat Heat goalkeeper Jorge Ortega for an early lead.

Ninety seconds later, in the 5th minute, a Brazilian tandem connected for Laredo’s equalizer. Midfielder Joao Monteiro incensed the nearside touchline before cutting a curling cross toward the penalty spot, where Irving Villanueva leapt to lift a looping ball to Rafael Ferreira just inside the 18-yard box. Ferreira flicked a fuming hip-high half volley into the net to pull into level terms again. The strike stands as Ferreira’s first goal of the season. It was also Villanueva’s first assist of the season.

The match balanced out over nearly 80 minutes, with the only events of importance coming via cautions into the official’s book. Mississippi’s Tom Gavin was yellow carded in the 49th minute while Laredo’s Monteiro (61st) and center back Jorge Rocha (76th) were also yellowed.

The match appeared destined to end a draw before an 88th minute far-side corner kick by the Brilla. The cross curled inside the six-yard box, over Laredo substitute Kevin Hernandez’s head, where it was nodded down in the congested goal’s mouth. The ball hit Hernandez’s extended arm, despite his back being turned on the ball, resulting in a whistle without hesitation.

Gavin sent Ortega diving the wrong direction on the ensuing spot kick, punching the goal and eventual game-winner.

The Brilla visit Laredo for a pair of matches in Laredo on July 10 and 12, and the matches will be streamed live at www.YouTube.com/LaredoHeatSC.

Each home game will see the Heat offer four fans a chance at winning $500. If the randomly selected fans can bury an undefended penalty kick at halftime, they will win $400 for themselves and $100 to the evening’s selected benefactor.

About the PDL

The top developmental men’s league in North America, the 2014 PDL featured 64 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada. The PDL season consists of 14 regular season matches for each team, seven home and seven away, and provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world.

 

For additional information on the tryouts, sponsorship opportunities, tickets, the Heat Club Card and the Laredo Heat Soccer Club, please contact the Heat Front Office at (956) 723 – 4700; visit our website at www.laredoheatsc.com , LIKE us on Facebook www.facebook.com/laredoheatsoccer or Follow Us on Twitter @LaredoHeatSC.