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RECAP: Heat See Season Ended in Semifinal Shootout

RECAP: Heat See Season Ended in Semifinal Shootout

Stampede strike revenge on Heat in 5-3 penalty victory

AUSTIN, Texas – One ill-placed spot kick after 120 minutes of sweltering soccer settled the Southern Conference’s first semifinal of 2014, reversing the result of last year’s initial meeting between the Ocala Stampede and Laredo Heat. The Stampede outlasted Laredo, 5-3, in the penalty kick shootout after the teams matched each other, 1-1, through 90 minutes of regulation and the two 15-minute extra times periods at House Park in Austin, Texas.

The victory for Ocala (9-1-4, 31 points) and elimination for Laredo (7-4-3, 24 points) stands a stark opposite from last year’s 2-0 domination of the Heat over the Stampede. This year, it took Laredo 87 minutes to find the net – on a clockwork breakaway and ruthless burial by Salvador “Chava” Luna. Needing to hold for just 180 seconds of regulation and stoppage time, the Heat saw Ocala equalize in the 89th minute when Lewis Hilton conjured a magical missile from 25 yards away.

With the match knotted at one, Ocala forced its cause in extra time – pushing Laredo into a defensive shell and counter-attack style of play. The Stampede never found the go-ahead goal, allowing penalty kicks to roll the dice for both teams’ destiny.

Ocala converted each of its five spot kicks, but Laredo took only four – seeing Miguel Fernandez miss the team’s first – before ending its 10th season in the Premier Development League. The Heat have qualified for every postseason they’ve been eligible for, constructing a PDL-record for longest streak of consecutive postseason appearances.

The even match featured a larger-than-life performance from Heat goalkeeper Jorge Ortega, a 20-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico. He bolted three separate 1-on-1 chances, silencing the Stampede until the final minute of regulation. The strike from Hilton was utterly unstoppable, a swerving and searing ball from just right-of-center and from distance.

The Stampede equalizer came after Laredo hurled wave after wave on the Ocala goal. Finally, super substitute Luna settled and looping ball launched to his boots from 35-yards out. He shrugged between the two center backs and took Ocala goalkeeper Lex Craggs off his line to the left side. With his angle diminishing from about 15 yards out, he slotted his low strike into the inside of the side netting.

The goal was his team-leading sixth in seven matches. The only match he didn’t score in during that run – the loss at Mississippi on July 5 – saw him play just 25 minutes before exiting with a hamstring issue.

With their victory, the Stampede will face the Austin Aztex – who defeated the Southwest Florida Adrenaline 3-1 in the second semifinal – at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at House Park. The winner will advance to the PDL Championships, facing just two matches for the chance to raise the PDL Cup.

The PDL All-Conference Teams will be announced on July 28, followed by the All-League Team on July 29.  The finalists for Coach of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player will be announced on July 30, with the awards presented at the PDL Championship Awards Banquet.

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.