DENISON – In their first action of the season, Melissa’s Cardinals went 0-3 in battling Class 5A Sherman, Bonham and Dumas at Denison’s annual soccer tournament last Thursday through Saturday at Munson Stadium.


In their season-opener on Thursday, the Cards fell to Sherman, 3-0, after holding the Bearcats (1-2-2) to a scoreless tie most of the match. Having pressured the Cards’ defense throughout the contest, Sherman finally broke through late for three quick goals.


“We played with them, we were very good for the first 60 minutes or so,” Melissa head coach Kelley Pitzer said, “and then had seven minutes where we completely gave up the midfield and gave them the opportunity. It’s just a lesson they’re going to have to learn and move forward.” Pitzer added that Sherman “has some speed, in the front and in the back.”


The Bearcats held a 3-2 edge in shots-on-goal. Sherman sophomore Jacob Prado manned the net throughout the contest as Jose Nandin, Elijah Martinez and Eric Garcia-Quiroz provided the Bearcats’ scoring punch. Senior Melissa goalkeeper Winston Chawira worked the entire match as well.


“I thought Winston did really well today,” Pitzer said. “Unfortunately, none of those three goals were his fault. It was all second shots and third shots that were coming in. Instead of us just clearing the ball, we tried to play possession and play out. You can’t do that. Sometimes it’s OK to just kick the ball away.”


Eufracio “Chico” Aleman, Sherman’s venerable head coach for 34 years, said, “We’ve been working on applying pressure on some teams and making quick passes, spreading it out. We substituted a lot because we’re not in that good physical condition yet. … It worked for us. It was a good strategy.”


On Friday, Bonham clipped the Cards, 1-0, with a goal in the match’s final 12 minutes. Chawira again went the distance in-net for Melissa. The Cards put six shots on goal to Bonham’s one, but the Warriors’ kick found its mark.


In Melissa’s tournament finale on Saturday, Dumas got by Melissa, 2-1, though the Cards logged 10 shots on goal to the Demons’ 2. Dumas’ goalkeeper finished with nine saves. Sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Tallichet worked the full match for the Cards.


Dumas took a 1-0 lead late in the first half and Melissa’s Eric Ramirez, with a Chris Perez assist, scored the Cards’ lone goal with under six minutes left to win the match. Dumas came back with the eventual game-winner less than a minute later.