The Bryan boys soccer team couldn’t find a way past A&M Consolidated’s young but stout defenders, while the Tigers had a rocky night pretty much everywhere else on the field in a 1-1 tie on Saturday night at Tigerland Stadium.
It wasn’t the performance Consol coach Jarrod Southern wanted to see from his young squad, but the Tigers did enough to end the Aggieland Classic matchup with a tie against their crosstown rivals.
“I wasn’t happy with our level of aggression off the ball,” Southern said. “I thought we were too soft and too easy to play 1-on-1. If we’re losing our 1-on-1 battles in the wide areas and we’re letting players get past us, it puts us collectively under pressure and puts a lot of pressure on our back four. Our defenders did well in their 1-on-1s. It was out further up the field that put the defenders under pressure.”
Despite being on its heels for much of the contest, Consol (0-4-1) climbed in the drivers seat at one point — though for only a minute.
The Tigers caught a break with just under 11 minutes left in the first half when Oscar Martinez got a corner kick from the right side of the net. The initial kick turned into a Garrett Pany header that Bryan knocked away, but another pass found its mark and Pany kicked it past Bryan goalkeeper Josue Gonzales to give Consol the lead just before halftime.
The Vikings (2-0-2) didn’t wait long to put the pressure back on the Tigers.
Bryan missed an opportunity when a free kick by Luis Sanchez landed near the goal and just out of the reach of a Viking forward, but a rare miscue by Consol’s defenders allowed Rony Puerto to swipe the ball inside the penalty box. Puerto only had keeper Ricky Avila to beat, and he fired in the equalizer from short range.
“The guys played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion,” Bryan coach Paul Ruiz said. “Consol is a good team. They’re the kind of people we need to play to get ready for district, and I really liked how we showed. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but the kids showed a lot of fight, especially going down early 1-0. That was big coming back and continuing to fight and put pressure on them.”
The Vikings had several chances to break the stalemate but couldn’t finish the opportunities against the Tigers’ solid defensive effort. The Vikings got their best chance in the final seconds when a foul set up a free kick at the top of the penalty area as time expired. Consol deflected Puerto’s kick, and the game finished in a draw.
“If they took [Consol defender Jeremy Mwarabu] out, we would have had a lot better chance,” Ruiz said with a smile. “That guy is a stud. He stopped a lot of balls. We had a hard time getting over them, because their back line was great and they stopped a lot of things.”
While Bryan had a number of shots that just missed the mark in the second half, Consol’s chances were few and far between. But Southern said the Tigers still showed encouraging signs so early in the season.
“The positives are the boys are young and they’re getting their mileage under the legs and learning,” Southern said. “I’m still excited, but tonight we were below par. We were not playing to our principals.”
Bryan returns to action Thursday at the Longhorn Challenge in Austin against Clear Creek. Consol will play at Bryan Collegiate on Friday.