By TONY EIERDAM
Needing to win to stay alive in a chase for playoff berths, both the Mineral Wells Rams and Lady Rams came away with 1-0 victories over Saginaw Friday night in key District 12-4A matches at Ram Stadium.
In a system that awards three points for a win, one point for a tie and no points for a loss, the Rams now have 25 points. The win put a four-point cushion between the Rams and fourth-place Saginaw as the Rams now need just a tie in one of its final two matches to clinch a playoff spot.
However, if Brewer lost to Azle on Friday the Rams would have already clinched a playoff spot.
“This was a big win,” Rams head coach Rolando Borjon said. “When we got the wind in the second half we were able to keep the ball on our side of the field for long stretches which took the ball away from their offense.
“The win puts us in a better spot in the standings, but we still have two more games left.”
The Lady Rams raised their district mark to 6-5-1 (19 points) and remain in fourth place. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Rams were facing a stiff, steady wind (25-35 miles per hour) in the first half.
MWHS goalkeeper Caleb Bandy kept the game scoreless with a pair of diving saves and two jump saves, and he also stopped a hard drive from 15 yards out.
The Rams had one great scoring opportunity, but that shot hit the cross bar as the match was scoreless at half.
With 26:49 to play, Rams senior forward Serjio Castillo received a pass form about 45-50 yards out in the middle, he quickly turned to avoid a defender and sent a towering shot at the Saginaw goal. The ball beat the goalkeeper, hit the right post and bounced in to give the Rams a 1-0 lead.
“I am always told to shoot from anywhere,” Castillo said. “With the wind like it was (to the Rams’ backs in the second half) I knew any shot might be hard to stop.
“I just turned around and sent one to the goal, and it went in.”
Bandy had to turn back one more Saginaw scoring opportunity to preserve the shutout and the win.
“Serjio came up with a big shot, and Caleb was great in goal,” Borjon said. “Bandy has come up big in the last two or three games, and in all of district play.
“He is three-for-three in penalty kick stops in district, and (Friday night) he kept us in the game. He kept the score from being 2-0 in the first half. When you have a ‘keeper like that it puts less pressure on the offense.”
The Lady Rams actually scored their lone goal while going into the wind.
Saginaw was whistled with an infraction inside the box, and the Lady Rams were awarded a penalty kick.
Senior Molly Clarke fooled the Saginaw ‘keeper by electing to shoot the ball down the middle, but high. The ball snuck in under the cross bar and into the twine to give the Lady Rams a 1-0 lead with 12:02 remaining in the first half.
In the second half, the Lady Rams peppered the Saginaw net, but much to the Saginaw goalkeeper’s credit, she turned back every opportunity.
However, with the play mainly in the MWHS offensive end, Saginaw did not have any good scoring opportunities as the Lady Rams hung on for the win.
“This puts us in good position to clinch a playoff spot,” Lady Rams assistant coach Taylor Eggleston said. “The girls knew this was a big game, and they came out focused.
“The girls executed well, and they controlled play when they had the wind.”
By TONY EIERDAM
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