Laredo Heat SC Falls 2-1 to Lubbock Matadors

By Laredo Heat SC

After waiting 12 days to get back on the pitch following its first loss of the season, the Laredo Heat SC will have to wait a little longer to get the bad taste out of its mouth as a 1-0 halftime lead evaporated into a 2-1 loss at PEG Energy Stadium in Thursday’s home match against the Lubbock Matadors.

“I needed to be a bit better tactically to put the boys in a position to be successful,” Heat head coach John Powell said. “Unfortunately, we gave up a deflected goal and a pen, and the rest is history.” 

The loss dropped the Heat (4-2-1, 13 points) from sole possession of first place in the Lone Star Conference down into a three-way tie with West Texas FC (4-2-1, 13 points) and Lubbock (4-2-1, 13 points) for third place and the final two playoff spots.  Laredo’s loss moved the Denton Diablos FC (5-1-2, 17 points) into sole possession of first place and FC Brownsville (4-1-2, 14 points) into second place.

Laredo went unbeaten in the first half of the regular season going 4-0-1, but it has dropped consecutive matches to start the second half.  The Heat have also been held to one goal in those two games after scoring multiple goals every time out in the first half. 

The Heat suffered their first loss 1-0 on Saturday, June 15 on the road against Denton.  They were scheduled to play two more matches last week, but both were postponed due to inclement weather.

Laredo lost more than just the match and its spot atop the table Thursday as captain and center back Lewis Wilson was issued a red card in the 91st minute and will have to serve the resulting suspension for Saturday’s match.    

Along with waiting 12 days to try to bounce back from their first loss, the Heat were also itching to get back on the scoreboard with their last goal coming during a 3-2 victory at West Texas FC on June 13.  After the two-week wait, it didn’t take long to deliver as Manuel Ponce Casas scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season in the second minute Thursday. 

Oscar Govea sent a deep cross into the right side to Jorge Amaya.  He dribbled and cut back before crossing the ball through two defenders.  Ponce Casas split a pair of defenders in the center of the box and elevated high to send a header into the top right corner for a quick 1-0 lead. 

“We created enough chances to have more than one, but unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” Powell said. “I loved the start from the boys.  I thought there would be a little bit of rust and they didn’t show any of that.  We could have been better tactically and fell asleep in a couple clean moments.”

Lubbock found the equalizer in the 66th minute as the Matadors regained the ball after a centering cross was cleared away.  A Heat defender attempted to clear out the deflection, but it went right to a Lubbock forward at the top center of the box.  After cutting around a defender, a shot from there through traffic was deflected again by a Heat defender, but it redirected into the left side of the net leaving the goalkeeper unable to change position in time. 

“It was a poor clearance from us into a bad area where we didn’t have a body,” Powell said. “We delayed fine and attempted to block the shot, and it’s just one of those unlucky moments where it deflected and it finds a way to miss the goalkeeper.” 

The Matadors wasted no time capitalizing on the momentum.  In the 69th minute, a deep kick from the keeper was headed into the box, and Diego Rocha kicked down the forward attempting to gather the loose ball resulting in a penalty kick.  The shot went off the crossbar but deflected in putting Lubbock ahead 2-1 in the 70th minute.

“Diego was in a really tough scenario where he was in a dangerous area,” Powell said. “With Adrian (Gallardo) maybe there is a little more composure to keep our feet moving, but it’s happening so fast and he’s trying to prevent a goal which he’s done half a dozen times this year with great tackles.  You have to trust he made the decision that he felt was best.”

The Heat generated several chances late with multiple free kicks and corners, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.  Gabriel Claudio had a header on target that was saved, and there was some chaos around the net after a corner kick before Wilson received his red card.

 Laredo returns to action Saturday hosting Austin United FC (1-5-1, 4 points) at 7:45 pm at PEG Energy Stadium located at 5401 Bob Bullock Loop across the street from Laredo International Airport. 

In the second game of the season, the Heat rallied in added time to secure a 2-2 draw on the road against Austin. 

“That’s the best thing is now we can totally shift our focus to Austin,” Powell said. “We know they are a good team, and they are probably going to come in and sense a little bit of weakness and vulnerability.  It’s a gut check time to show what we are about as a coaching staff and as players.”

Please visit youtube.com/@LaredoHeatSC for live streams of the Heat’s matches. For ticket information and to stay up to date on all things Laredo Heat, please visit laredoheatsc.com and follow @laredoheatsc on all the major social media platforms.

 

Photo Credit: Andy Gonzalez Photography/Laredo Heat SC

 

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