MIDLAND It was the unfortunate familiar feeling of anguish among the Odessa High boys soccer team Thursday night.
The Bronchos gave El Paso Socorro their best shot at Grande Communications Stadium in a Class 6A bi-district playoff matchup, but just like in recent years, they couldn’t lift a gold trophy.
The Bulldogs defeated the Bronchos 2-0 on two second-half goals. It was the same venue and score for the teams in last years’ bi-district game. It is also the third consecutive first-round playoff exit for Odessa High.
“The boys tried hard, it just didn’t work out,” Odessa High head coach Eliseo Ortiz said. “We’re pretty even as far as chances until the first goal … (El Paso Socorro) just did a couple things a little bit better.”
Odessa High (13-12-1) let the Bulldogs get a few early scoring chances and may have been lucky not to fall behind by a goal in the first half.
As the first 40 minutes went on, the Bronchos gained more momentum with Alan Rubio and Brandon Bernal each getting a scoring chance, but neither could put their shot on goal.
“We’re more offensive than what we showed in the first half,” El Paso Socorro head coach Alejandro Delgado said. “And so, regardless of the score and how the games end up, we need to be true to what we do, which is attack and so we’re going to try to continue to do that until it’s dictated to us by another team that we can’t do it.”
That’s exactly how the Bulldogs responded coming out of halftime. Within a few minutes, they had their first scoring chance in a while. And in the 50th minute, they broke the deadlock.
El Paso Socorro’s first goal came off the foot of Mario Cisneros when Odessa High couldn’t clear a loose ball and Cisneros got just enough on his shot to curl it around the outstretched hands of Bronchos’ goalkeeper Gabriel Padilla.
After Cisneros’ goal opened up the game for both teams, El Paso Socorro cashed in again 10 minutes later.
Noe Vasquez scored that marker for the Bulldogs on an individual effort where he found space away from Bronchos defenders and blasted the ball into the net.
“You end up as a third seed and you play someone really good,” Ortiz said about the Bulldogs. “They’re district champs, they just happened to lose a toss.
“I think we’re pretty even in skill. The El Paso culture is always that the boys fight. There’s little things that they do that they just get us on, just little stuff.”
After the game, the Bronchos’ sideline was full of emotion knowing that another chance at a playoff breakthrough was denied. Odessa High will have to try again next season to win its first playoff game since 2008.
“We knew they were going to be a strong team,” Bronchos’ senior center back Phrab Singh said about Socorro. “We’ve improved and they’ve improved, too, and then it was a head-to-head clash, both teams were trying their hardest to win.”
Singh and the rest of the senior class were Ortiz’s first group of kids to play their entire high school careers with him at the helm.
“If they stuck with me for four years, it was because they had everything that I wanted for them,” Ortiz said. “They work hard, they love the game, they do everything right.”