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Heat spoils Midland's home advantage at playoffs

Heat spoils Midland's home advantage at playoffs

Heat beats Midland 3-1

By Zach Smith

Laredo Morning Times

 

Miguel Alvarado scored a penalty kick in each half and Leon Taylor added a late goal to lift the Heat over Midland 3-1 in the season finale Thursday night and end the year with two consecutive victories.

Before Thursday, the Sockers had outscored Laredo 10-0 in three games this season and handed the Heat their two worst losses in franchise history. Laredo snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against Houston Tuesdaynight and won back-to-back games for just the second ime this year.

The Heat (5-7-2, 17 points) finish the year in third place in the Mid-South division of the PDL, four points behind the Sockers (6-4-3,21). Mississippi (6-3-3, 21) will win the division because they played two fewer games than Midland.

The game started out incredibly slow, with one combined shot in the first 15 minutes. Jose Soto was brought down in the box in the 20th minute and the referee pointed to the spot. Alvarado chipped the keeper to give the Heat an early lead. Alvarado had two assists in Laredo’s 3-1 win against the Dutch Lions Tuesday night.

Play opened up after the Heat goal, with the Sockers pushing the pace and controlling the vast majority of possession. Midland outshot the Heat 10-0 after the opening goal.

Midland’s leading scorer Tucker Hume had an open shot blocked by Heat defender Alex Mullet, who returned to the back line after starting the last two games at forward.

Defense had been a problem for the Heat all season after giving up a division worst  27 goals. Laredo with stood 22 shots without giving  up  a goal, including a trio of chances from close range early in the second half that were all blocked.

While the defense was a p oint of pride, the counterattack fell short. Every time the defense cleared the ball, the Laredo attack would struggle to get anything going forward. That was characteristic of the Heat attack all season after scoring a division-worst 16 goals.

Soto again drew a foul in the box in the 65th minute and Alvarado blasted his second penalty kick of the game past the Midland keeper to double the score for Laredo. The Heat scored more goals in the last two games of the season as they did in six games before then.

Former Heat player Chuy Cortes came on as a second half substitute for Midland much to the dismay of the Heat crowd. He had an openchance with 10 minutes left in the game but sent his shot high over the bar.

Leon Taylor put the icing on the cake when he capitalized on a 3-on-1 following a Midland corner kick. United graduate Giovanni Micas led the break and crossed the ball to Taylor in front of the lone Midland defender for the easy tap-in.

Midland was awarded a penalty kick in the final seconds of the game and Daniel Riley slotted it home to prevent the Heat from getting their first shutout after a full game this season.

The otherwise disappointing season ends without a trip to the postseason for the first time in 11 years for the Heat. Their three-year run   of qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup will more than likely come to end as well.

Follow @Zach_Smith_on Twitter for the latest updates on the Heat and other local sports.

Email: ZSmith@LMTOnine.com