Anna kicked off its soccer 2019 season with a pair of ties at the weather-shortened Princeton tournament at Jackie Hendricks Stadium on Friday and Saturday. After Thursday’s Day 1 slate was scrapped for inclement weather, the Coyotes battled the Class 5A Terrell Tigers to a 0-0 tie on Friday afternoon. Anna dueled to another draw Saturday morning — this one at 2-2 with the Class 4A Argyle Eagles.
In the Coyotes’ three-team bracket, Argyle and Terrell also tied sending the Tigers to Saturday’s semifinals on tiebreakers. Class 5A Lebanon Trail eventually topped Terrell in the finals, 1-0.
Much of Anna’s match with the Tigers was played on Anna’s end of the pitch as Terrell brought its signature pressure offense. The Tigers put up 14 shots to Anna’s 7 and each team tallied four shots-on-goal. The Coyotes’ defense repeatedly survived the pressure.
“We’ve played Terrell several times in this tournament,” Anna head coach Matt Ellis said, “and they’ve always … put a lot of pressure on your defenders. They move the ball so well and they have finishers. I felt like we didn’t give them too many opportunities up-close with great scoring chances. They had several shots but a lot of them were from distance. Then David Joaquin, when he had to, came up with some big saves.” Junior goalkeeper Joaquin went the whole way for Anna, logging four saves and laying out airborne for two of them. Ellis said sophomore Phillip Henson would soon get some time as well. “David had a couple of good saves in the first half and I felt like he was doing well. I just wanted to give him the run in the second half against that opponent. I’m still looking at rotating those guys and seeing if someone steps up and takes it over.
“I thought we were organized. One of the things I was looking most at in this game is, ‘Can we stay organized? Can we stay disciplined?’ And for the most part I felt like we did. You’re always going to have breakdowns in games here and there where you’re caught out of position. But I felt like our guys stayed organized and we created some good chances.”
“Offensively, they’re very good,” Anna midfielder Isaac Nino said of the Tigers. “They move the ball really well in our attacking third. I think we defended very well too, even though they dominated most of the game. We counter-attacked, we defended well. I didn’t feel like they were super-strong, defensively. We could’ve done a lot more. We could’ve used a lot more weapons that we have. We did pretty well overall for our first game of the season against a team that we lost to, 4-1, two years ago.”
In Saturday’s match with Argyle, the Eagles took a 1-0 lead with five minutes left in the first period and led by that margin at halftime. Zach Lopez’ goal evened the score for Anna with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Joaquin was in-net for the first period and Henson came on in the second. Argyle got off 12 shots to Anna’s five and had five shots-on-goal while the Coyotes logged three. Joaquin and Henson posted two saves each.
Anna was without senior defender Gavin Reno for both matches due to injury. Reno wore a leg brace and watched the action on crutches from the sidelines. “He took a knock on Monday in that scrimmage,” Ellis said. “It doesn’t look to be as bad as we thought. … It might only be a couple of weeks, which would be great news.”