The Belton Tigers Soccer team, fresh off of an unexpected weather day off from a series of dangerous storms in the Metroplex, hit the pitch at Postell Field in Dallas to take on the host school in the Meintser Jesuit Tournament in the Jesuit Rangers on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers broke through in the second half, as Edgar Soto headed Simon Howe’s corner kick into the net with 30:52 left in the game and the defense did the rest to move Belton to 5-0 on the season with a 1-0 over the Rangers.
Belton has outscored teams 11-1 so far in 2020 and have shut out three consecutive opponents. Their shutout streak sits at 224:41.
Andres Martinez was sensational in throughout the tournament for the Tigers. His excellent game on Saturday started with three key saves in the first 10 minutes of the contest.
Belton’s timing was a bit off at the start, as Patrick Tosse’s centering pass was just forward of Soto’s boot and into the arms of Jesuit goalkeeper Parker Christensen at the 23:20 mark.
After two saves by Martinez toward the middle part of the first half, Soto had a 20-yard blast just wide right of the goal and header off of a setup from Oscar Vargas just over the net. Jesus Ibarra’s push up the right side set up Tosse’s blast that went wide right. Howe’s throw in hit Soto right on the boot, which Soto blasted a point-blank shot that was saved by Christensen with 11 minutes to go in the first half.
Howe’s corner kick was just headed over the net by Soto with six minutes to play in the first half.
Diego Celorio’s point-blank shot was saved by Martinez with 4:48 to go. Henry Gilker’s centering pass was knocked down by Ibarra at the top of the goal box with 2:47 to eliminate Jesuit’s final scoring chance of the half.
David Lara’s pass up to Howe set up Pascal Pfeifer’s heel-flick attempt that was saved by Christensen with 1:12 to go in the half. Soto’s centering pass was intercepted in the box with six seconds left kept the score knotted at 0-0 at the half.
The Tigers were in a defensive posture to start the second half, as Lara intercepted a ball in the goal box 29 seconds into the half.
Diego Sierra’s shot was shelled wide of a diving Martinez for a Belton goal kick moments later.
Howe’s centering pass to Tosse was deflected wide at the 31:33 mark. The Tigers loitered around the Jesuit goal before Belton was awarded a corner kick with 31 minutes to go. Howe’s kick sliced directly in front of the net, where Soto promptly headed the ball into the twine to give Belton a 1-0 lead with 30:52 to play.
The Tigers had several opportunities for an insurance marker that Christensen steered aside.
Four more excellent saves by Martinez, including a huge two-handed, diving save with 11 seconds to play, earned “Nugget” the clean sheet for the game.
“My defense meant everything for me today,” Martinez said. “Alvin (Packard), Oscar (Vargas), Noe (Martinez), Mark (Diaz), David (Lara), all of those guys helped out today.”
“Andres is the MVP of the tournament for us, no doubt,” Belton Head Coach Ben Bralley said. “He has really set us up in good positions, and the defense is doing excellent.”
Soto’s offense has been a key to the Tigers’ early success. He has had quite of few teammates that have set him up for some dazzling goals.
“The guys are communicating very well right now,” Soto said. “We are putting the ball on goal as much as we can. We love giving Andres as much support as we can, and he and defense are playing really well right now.”
“We were a little slow at the start, but we really have played well offensively,” Bralley said. “We have put a good number of shots on goal and communication is getting better and better.
The Tigers go on the road to take on Copperas Cove to start District 12-6A play on Tuesday night at Bulldawg Stadium.
“We are looking forward to starting district play on Tuesday,” Bralley said. “Our district is challenging and it all starts on Tuesday.”
“It will be good to get back into district play,” Soto said. “We can’t wait to get started.”