The Odessa High boys soccer team had this game on its mind for a month.
Ever since their loss to Permian on Feb. 16 knocked the Bronchos out of first place in the District 2-6A standings, their season had derailed a bit — dropping points in a few unlikely situations.
Odessa High finally responded Friday night with both its and Permian’s playoff fates hanging in the balance. The Bronchos downed the Panthers 3-1 with consistent defense and quality scoring opportunities.
“It means a lot,” Odessa High sophomore Alan Rubio said about the win. “We thought we were out of the playoffs. This gives us more confidence. We just thought about all the lessons we learned in the games before and we just came for revenge.”
Odessa High and Permian came into the game tied for the fourth and final playoff berth in the district. The win doesn’t clinch the Bronchos a playoff berth nor eliminate the Panthers from playoff contention, but puts both right on the doorstep.
Odessa High’s number to clinch the final postseason spot is 1 — meaning that Permian must defeat Midland Lee on Tuesday in regulation to stay alive. Odessa High travels to face Midland High at the same time. As long as the Bronchos don’t lose in regulation, they’re in.
If Permian and Odessa High end up tied in the district standings after Tuesday, the teams would collide for a third time this season in a postseason play-in game. The Panthers have to hope Midland High can knock off the Bronchos for that to happen. The Bulldogs clinched a playoff spot with Permian’s loss.
“We didn’t generate enough opportunities in the attacking third,” Permian head coach Luis Carmona said. “I think defensively, we did okay at times, midfield we did okay, but we just had to execute. We didn’t create clear opportunities. That’s the way this game goes.
“(Odessa High) put away theirs. Now it’s just out of our hands, now we just got to depend on somebody else beating them.”
Odessa High (12-11-1 overall, 4-3-0-2 district, 14 points) opened the scoring 30 minutes into the game when a few clever passes gave Chris Ramos the ball streaking toward Permian’s net. Ramos passed the ball to fellow Bronchos’ senior Luis Salazar, but the shot was saved by Panthers’ goalkeeper Carson Roberts.
The rebound fell to the feet of Ramos, however, who again dished the ball to Salazar. This time, the Odessa High midfielder put enough spin on the ball to get it over Roberts’ hands and into the net.
After Rubio scored on a penalty kick to give Odessa High a two-goal lead, Permian’s Luis Ibarra brought the Panthers back within striking distance by scoring on a close-range bicycle kick with less than 18 minutes to go in the game.
The Bronchos put the game away off the foot of sophomore Brandon Bernal, whose shot from 25 feet from the goal curled around Roberts’ dive and into the net with three minutes left in the contest.
“When I saw nobody got to the ball, I looked at (Roberts) and I saw where he was located … I just had to shoot the other way,” Bernal said about his goal. “But I didn’t try to shoot it hard … I’ve been having a hard time to score. I’ve had really bad luck.”
That slump-breaker brought Odessa High ever so close to its third consecutive season with a postseason appearance, after sitting out the previous four campaigns.
“It has been a lot of games where we have somehow or another ended up with a tie or loss. Most of the times have been in the last minute … we knew eventually it was going to come around, that we were going to get a good result and it came at the right moment, obviously,” Odessa High head coach Eliseo Ortiz said. “I think this game gives us confidence that we can finish with three goals and that’s where I think we lacked. It gives us confidence that we can play good defense and not give up unearned goals.”
(Overall records in parentheses)
W L SW SL Pts
x-Frenship (21-2-0)…… 7 2 0 0 21
x-Midland Lee (14-7-1) 5 2 1 1 18
x-Midland High (9-7-2) 3 2 2 1 14
Odessa High (12-11-1) 4 3 0 2 14
Permian (10-11-1)……. 3 5 1 0 11
Tascosa (1-18-2)…….. 0 8 0 0 0
Standings note: Regulation wins (W) worth three points; shootout wins (SW) worth two points); shootout losses (SL) worth one point;
regulation losses (L) worth zero points.
x-Clinched playoff berth
Odessa High 3, Permian 1
Wolfforth Frenship 3, Midland Lee 1
Midland High at Amarillo Tascosa, 2 p.m.
Midland Lee at Permian, 7:30 p.m.
Odessa High at Midland High, 7:30 p.m.
Amarillo Tascosa at Wolfforth Frenship, 7:30 p.m.
END OF REGULAR SEASON