Rivalries are games that you want to win. You want to win every game but on the day you face a rival, it is almost a must win.
Over the past five years the rivalry for the Region 14 Soccer Title has been between the San Jacinto Wolves and the Tyler Junior College Apaches.
The Regional Champion was crowned on the home field of the Apaches last season, and it was not the Apaches. The Championship game had been tied at zero for the entire game. As it went into the second overtime, both teams were left scrambling.
The game ended in a 0-0 tie and was going to be decided in a shootout. The 2007 Apache season came to an end last year as the ball sailed up and over the right post, on the fifth penalty kick.
“I remember both teams in a crouch and as soon as the ball sailed over the net, one team fell and the other team started running onto the field,” said Apache soccer fan Ryan LeRoy.
Although the 2007 campaign ended badly for the Apaches, the 2008 season is off to a great start with a 11-2-1 record. Although the Apaches know that, beyond seeding, the record doesn’t mean much for their run at the national championship.
“We started the season off great, but in order for us to accomplish our goal of winning a national championship, we have to win the regional tournament first,” Captain Adam Girdlestone said.
This year, the regional tournament will be held in Houston at the home of the Wolves. Regardless of the outcome of the regional tournament, the district tournament will be held in Tyler the weekend following regionals. The Apaches know that the regional tournament will be a hard-fought battle.
“It is the most physical game of the year. The game is played at a very high level. The talent is very strong on both sides of the ball,” Sophomore Allen Thomson said.
On the field the games are physical and competitive, but the two teams know to leave the rivalry on the field.
“We [Steve Clements and San Jacinto Head Coach Dr. David Santestabon] are good buddies. We have a mutual respect for one another. It is not a dirty rivalry. On the field it is a tough game but once the game is over, it’s over,” Head Men’s Soccer Coach Steve Clements said.
The Apaches able to manage a 0-0 tie when the two teams played in Tyler earlier this year, but at San Jacinto’s home field in Houston, they were able to manage a 3-2 victory over the Apaches in late October.
“It was a good game. We just let them come back at the end. We now know what we have to do,” Thomson said after the loss.
“We had a two goal lead with thirty minutes to play. We just need to do a better job of closing the game out,” sophomore goalkeeper Sam Gordon said.
If the Apaches can get by Lon Morris on Oct. 31 in Houston. They will have a chance to do what San Jacinto did last year – win the regional championship on the home field of their biggest rival.