By Gaige Davila
The Lady Tarpon soccer team is playoff bound, the first time in two years.
This Saturday, at 10 a.m., the Lady Tarpons will face the IDEA Donna Lady Titans at home, after a rough season wrought with COVID-19, a freeze and endless schedule changes.
Port Isabel High School Head Girls Soccer Coach Cristobal Ortiz, after taking the head-coach helm two years ago, is confident in the team, regardless.
“They’re a physically rough team, they’re tough girls,” Ortiz said of the Lady Tarpons. “They stay running for both halves of the game.”
He continued, “For this first round, we really want to be as explosive as possible going into the game. Because now every game counts.”
Placing 3rd in district, the Lady Tarpons qualified for the playoffs after a game against Rio Hondo, which they lost 5-0. The Lady Tarpons played Hidalgo in a non-conference, warm-up game on March 23, in preparation for the playoffs.
“Playing at the level that we did, it’s a good wake up call for, ‘hey, we’re not done yet, we still have some more to go,’” Ortiz said. “I think this Saturday morning is going to be a good opportunity for our girls to showcase how good they are to another district.”
Because of COVID-19, the Lady Tarpons would have games delayed or had opposing teams switched with larger schools. February’s freeze delayed schools across the Rio Grande Valley from playing, causing some teams to play back-to-back games to keep with the schedule.
This experience with larger schools helped the Lady Tarpons in the long run, according to Ortiz.
“Everyone got to experience a higher level of play,” Ortiz said. “When you play bigger schools, you definitely have a bigger talent pool.”
Ortiz said the players, including eight returning seniors and two juniors, had improved since last year, partially compensating for the lack of offseason the team had.
“A lot of the improvements they’ve made has been because a lot of these girls took initiative to make themselves better on their own when no one was around,” Ortiz said. “The development that a lot of them had was truly because they wanted to get better.”
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