EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – For the fourth time in program history, the San Elizario boys soccer team will hit the road to the Final Four on Tuesday morning.
For the fourth time, the Eagles hope their trek across the state of Texas is fruitful. Each time San Eli has been to the state tournament previously – 2015, 2018, 2019 – the Eagles’ stay in Georgetown has ended with a state championship.
The Eagles will leave for the Final Four on Tuesday, headed for central Texas and what they hope is a fourth state title. San Elizario (24-2-1) will square off with Hidalgo Early College (27-7-3) on Wednesday evening. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT at Birkelbach Field at Georgetown High School.
“We saw those teams win it all when we were growing up. I have an uncle who played on the 2015 team so it’s an amazing feeling to follow in his footsteps and maybe win it all and have that connection with him,” said senior forward Edgar Salas.
The Eagles won’t be alone in their trek to the state tournament. The Bel Air boys (27-0-1) also qualified for the Final Four in Class 5A and will face Mission Sharyland (19-5-3) on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT in the State Semifinals.
The last time both San Eli and Bel Air made it to the state semifinals was 2019, the year both the Eagles and Highlanders brought home state championships.
San Elizario has been a strong defensive team much of the year, but their offense has come on strong of late. They’re outscoring opponents 19-2 through the first five matches of the playoffs and head coach Max Sappenfield hopes that trend continues.
Sappenfield credited the team culture with the 2023 edition of the Eagles for their success throughout the season and in the playoffs.
“This team is very tight. The other state title teams were tight-knit and this is a very tight-knit team. We have an excellent team culture, the kids treat each other really well. They’re enjoyable to be with. I think that has a big impact on the quality of our play,” Sappenfield said.
If the Eagles win their semifinal match, they would square off with either Palestine or Lumberton in the Class 4A state championship match on Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT.