This league is not about soccer. We love the game, and we think every child interested in it should have the ability to play it. But that's not why we're here. Liga HEB was built to connect people. Students to schools, schools to parents, and parents back to their students. So “Rivalry Week” — the one fixture every year that sees each club play another from the same school — is probably the least bitter series of derby matches in the world.

The structure of the league lends itself to a certain pattern. Generally, every school is going to have one team that performs well and one that struggles. One club made up of young, developing students and another packed with kids who are just waiting to be eligible for the High School team. Rivalry Week should be the most lopsided week of the year.

But it's not.

There's a free-wheeling, competitive spirit to Derby matches in Liga HEB. Students want to prove themselves to their older peers, but they also want their younger peers to succeed. That's how dynasties are built.

There's no more perfect picture of the spirit of Rivalry Week — of the league as a whole — than the families who line up on the sideline to watch their sons and brothers play. Soccer is generational, and we're glad to see that it's being passed down here.

Hurst City Tops RUFC in Raider Rumble

The Raider Rumble may have been delayed by a transportation mishap, but the players didn't seem to notice. Hurst has a legacy of high-quality teams, and their intra-campus derby tends to be the most electric of the three. The 2018 installment gave us all the drama and skill we could possibly have asked for.

Despite trailing City in the standings, Raiders United threatened to steal the match from their rivals in white. RUFC nearly opened the scoring in the first 15 minutes when a low pass just missed its target on the back door. City got on the board moments later after a corner kick cleared the defense and was chipped back across the goal, catching the keeper out of position.

The boys in Red rallied to close the half, scoring an equalizer just before the whistle. After the break, though, City took the lead for good. Their left wing made a strong run down the sideline, then cut back inside and slipped a shot beneath Raiders' keeper at the near post. Still, it wasn't until their third try hit the net that the Hurst City really put their peers away. Even with a two-goal advantage, things were tight until the end.

Central Splits Points in Battle of Tenacity and Technique

By nearly every measure, Atlético Central was the better team. They held the ball far longer than Spartans. They had more individual skill. Most of the match played out in front of the Navy and Grey's goalposts. But Atlético never found a final touch that could put the ball in the net. And that wasn't an accident.

Spartans came into this match as underdogs. Their squad is young and undersized, with less individual skill than their more experienced foes. But less experience also means less ego, and less ego usually means better chemistry. Spartans set out to frustrate their opponents with tenacious, swarming defense that laid the groundwork for quick counters. For the most part, that tactic was foiled by over-eager strikers who fired ambitious shots from thirty yards rather than push for better chances inside the box. But you don't have to score to earn a point, and a single point seemed to be all Spartans wanted.

As for Atlético, nothing sums up the match like their best chance to take the lead. Late in the second half, a deflected ball fell to a blue-clad midfielder. Undefended in front of the goal, he mistimed a half-volley that sent the would-be winner high and wide to the right. Early signs of dominance, especially a potent give-and-go attack on the right wing, faded for Atlético as the game went on. Eventually, their players lost heart and trust in each other and tried to win the game on their own power. That's never a winning strategy.

Real Euless Dominate Stallions FC in Rodeo Derby

Of all the rivalry matches, this was always going to be the most uneven. There's a wide breadth between the two clubs at Euless, and Stallions did themselves no favors by losing a half-dozen players to academic probation. They fielded a skeleton crew of nine men for the Rodeo. Real were kind enough to match them by lining up their one 9-man formation, but the extra players held off only meant more substitutes to be used as the match wore on.

Real scored early and often, their top players carving up an inexperienced and shorthanded Stallion defense. The boys in black have a tendency to dive in on their tackles, overcommitting and opening doors for players with even average foot skills. Strikers at Real Euless have far better touch than the average player, and their opening goal came after one of their All-Star candidates danced around three defenders and slotted a low shot to the far post.

It was 4-nil by the half, and that was probably an act of mercy. Stallions are still too eager on the counterattack, forcing their outlet passes to the first black jersey they see regardless of how many opponents stand in the way. With only a few games left on their schedule, Real Euless needed a better tune-up match than this. They're kings of Liga HEB for the moment, but there's just no way of knowing how their game plan — which thus far depends on individual flashes of brilliance — will hold up against the battle-hardened teams from Hurst.

For more recaps and updated Power Rankings in Liga HEB, drop by the News Page. Or take a look at the league table to see a full schedule and standings.

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