EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Four rounds down, three more to go for the Eastlake and Del Valle boys soccer teams who are seeking high school soccer’s ultimate prize in the state of Texas — a state championship.
In 2019, El Paso saw two high school soccer programs crowned state champions when Bel Air captured the 5A title and San Elizario won the 4A championship. The playoffs were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now, in 2021, two more programs will be looking to punch their tickets to the Final Four.
Eastlake has been one of the most consistent teams in the state this season. The Falcons come into the match with a record of 19-1 and have outscored their opponents in the playoffs, 19-4. It’s their first appearance in the Regional Finals since 2016, when head coach Gibby Widner led Eastlake to the Final Four. This year, the Falcons are making their playoff run one classification higher in 6A.
“They want to show that moving up a classification to 6A is just a number versus what their talent in on the field,” said Widner. “They want to show everyone that El Paso soccer is untapped and we can play with the best on anybody in the state.”
The Falcons will play one of the largest schools in the state on Friday in Wolfforth when they go toe-to-toe against Allen. The match will be played at Frenship High School at 1 p.m. MT.
“We just need to be in the right mentality from the beginning,” said senior goalkeeper Kevin Lambert. “We sometimes start slow, but hopefully we start off strong and if we start strong, we need to keep the pressure on for 80 minutes.”
Del Valle is led by future hall of fame coach Bruce Reichman who is no stranger to deep playoff runs. Under Reichman, this is the Conquistadores 12th appearance in the Regional Finals and will be looking to advance to the Final Four for the sixth time in program history with a win over Colleyville Heritage on Friday in Midland. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. MT at Grande Communication Stadium.
“They [Del Valle players] know the goals and the expectations of the program that we set forth at the beginning of the year,” said Reichman. “They’ve put in the work and they’re here. They’re tasting it now and they know what the playoffs are like. They just seem to step it up a notch with each game we play, which I like.”
Coverage of both Regional Final playoff games can be seen on KTSM 9 News at 6/10 p.m. on Friday.