“Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.” –Albert Einstein
Week 3 of Liga HEB saw plenty of action, with both Hurst teams hanging on to their leads in the standings and Central's Atlético and Spartans FC putting on dominating performances. While Spartans came away with only a tie, they find themselves near the top of the power rankings this week. Most importantly, however, players seemed to have finally settled in. The fields behind Central Junior High have become home for 120 students, and those students respect and value one another.
Where there is sport, there is bound to be conflict and emotion. That's human. It's not the feelings and impulses we have that define us, but what we do with them. The young men of this league have grown by leaps and bounds in a short month, shaking hands and honoring one another even in defeat last Wednesday night. They've worked hard and they've earned each other's respect. More impressive; they've given it.
A closer look at Week 3, thanks to student reporters on the ground…
Spartans FC tie Raiders FC 2-2
by Steven Jones, with José Cortes
While their match may have ended 2-2, there was no shortage of excitement in the first clash between Spartans and Raiders. Each team being a contender near the halfway mark in the season, both clubs had plenty on the line coming in and played accordingly. Each side scored early before the match settled down, leaving the score knotted at 1 until Central went ahead 5 minutes into the second half. Not to be outdone, Raiders equalized shortly thereafter and played a tight game until their end.
Spartans dominated the game early, their aggressive play matching Coach Patricio Martinez for enthusiasm. With a weaker defensive set than their opponents, the Central club focused on swarming the ball and clogging up midfield play to control the flow of the game. Hurst showed plenty of hustle and spirit, however, and seemed to get the better side of 50-50 challenges in the air. Coach Bean plays a possession-oriented game, and Raiders looked composed in the spans that they controlled the ball. Neither team tallied a significant number of shots, but each was able to find the net when they needed to.
Both clubs have an easier matchup next week against struggling sides from Euless Junior High. Expect these teams to tune up in that time. They'll need to be in top form for Rivalry Week, as both squads trail their respective counterparts in Atlético and FC Hurst.
Stallions FC Net First Goal in Loss to FC Hurst
Looking at the score, one might think that this game was never close. As well as each team played, Stallions couldn't keep up with their opponents. Down by a goal at the half, Stallions had reason to believe they could recover to save the game. Their hopes soured, however, when they conceded a pair of lackluster goals early in the second half. Hurst pulled further away long distance strikes from their outside mids to end match at 5-1. There's a bright side of defeat for Euless, however, as they take home their first goal of the season.
Making good use of their strikers' speed, Stallions pressured Hurst into giving up a free kick just outside the top of the box. Without hesitation and before the defense could set, Euless snuck a devious shot past the Hurst keeper to avoid their third consecutive blank sheet. Despite dropping the shutout, however, Hurst looked good in all sectors of the game. Their positioning is top-notch and they boast impressive range on offense, often launching attacks from their own defensive third and allowing their forwards to run behind Stallions' back line.
Hurst takes on Atlético FC next week in what should prove to be another entertaining match, with Central looking to hang a loss on the league leaders before midseason. Stallions will look to remain chippy in next week's match with Spartans FC, a physically imposing opponent who can challenge their speed up front.
Atlético FC Central Shines in 7-0 Blowout of Real Euless
by Steven Jones
We knew coming in that this would be a tough game for Euless, losers of three straight and buried at the bottom of the league standings. Atlético, on the other hand, has rebounded well from a tough loss in Week 1 and looks to take the top spot from Hurst FC next week. Their overall talent and hustle was too much for Real, whose struggling goalkeeper couldn't catch a break in a game that blew up in the second half.
Down 3- nil at the break, Euless struggled to get the all across the midfield line and to accomplish anything with it once it was there. With their back line failing to push up to midfield for fear of Atlético's speedy wingers, Euless's white-clad club conceded too many chances and, ultimately, too many goals. They've got to improve on their clearances and play smarter in the back to let their offense — which is no performing on par with the talent on the field — do its work.
Sensing blood in the water, Atlético held nothing back in the second half, doubling their lead plus one thanks to a few brilliant shots and some keeper's errors. This is a hungry club that wants desperately to grab hold of the number one place in the league, and they'll have a chance to do that while their rivals are distracted with Euless clubs next week.
See team descriptions, full standings and power rankings here.