Late goal lifts Lobos past Chargers, punch ticket to regional tourney

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BROWNSVILLE — Brownsville Lopez forward Jesus Hernandez chipped in a shot with less than seven minutes remaining and the Lobos edged past the Brownsville Veterans Chargers 1-0 during a Region IV-5A quarterfinal contest Tuesday at Chargers Stadium in Brownsville.

The victory sends the Lobos to the Region IV-5A tournament for a second straight season. They’ll take on San Antonio Southwest at 4 p.m. Friday at the Brownsville Sports Park for a spot in Saturday’s regional final.

“I’m very happy for the victory more than anything,” Hernandez said. “I have to thank God. The shot before, I saw it coming and I knew God put it in my hands. Thanks to him it gave us the result we wanted.”

The teams played to a stalemate through the first 40 minutes, with neither the Chargers nor Lobos able to generate real opportunities during the opening half. Both teams finished with just two shots on goal during the first.

The Lobos turned up the intensity during the second half, applying pressure on the Chargers backline and goalkeeper Bryan Cobos.

Brownsville Veterans Roman Reyna, left, and Brownsville Lopez’s Lorenzo Nevarez battle for possession during a Region IV-5A quarterfinal match Tuesday at Chargers Stadium in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts | Brownsville Herald)

Brownsville Lopez’s constant attack nearly yielded a goal during the 57th minute, with junior Ramon “Chacho” Zuniga finding space between a pair of Chargers’ defenders and firing a shot at goal, but Cobos came up with another big save.

The Lobos finally broke through during the 74th minute, with sophomore Diego Guerra letting a shot fly from over 40 yards. The shot ricocheted off the top post, with Hernandez there for the rebound to chip it in for the go-ahead score.

“We told our guys at halftime, someone had to be inside for a rebound or a cross because we missed some opportunities in the first half,” Brownsville Lopez head coach Amadeo Escandon said. “Jesus (Hernandez) played that rebound perfectly. He was there and just tapped it in.”

With the lead in tow, the Lobos went on the defensive over the final six minutes.

Brownsville Lopez’s stout defense, which has allowed just one goal this postseason, buckled down and kept the Chargers off the board to secure a spot in this weekend’s regional tournament.

Brownsville Lopez’s Michael Pineda, left, and Brownsville Veterans’ Pablo Sosa battle for possession during a Region IV-5A quarterfinal match Tuesday at Chargers Stadium in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts | Brownsville Herald)

“It was a very intense game,” Escandon said. “We played them twice this year and it was the same intensity. Tonight, we had something bigger to play for so expected that. They’re a great team. Well coached and well organized so we expected this tonight.”

The Lobos return to the regional tournament marks the first time they’ve made back-to-back appearances since 2016-2017, both years which ended in state tournament appearances.

They’ll look to punch their ticket back to the regional final for the first time since 2017 after falling to Leander Rouse during last year’s regional semis.

“We don’t want the season to finish like last year. We came within two games of the state tournament. This year we’re going with everything.”

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