Photo: Kin Man Hui, Staff Photographer / San Antonio Express-News
Not a day went by that members of the LEE boys soccer team didn’t think about it.
It was on their minds during the summer, during offseason workouts in the fall and the first month of the season. Everywhere the Volunteers turned, they couldn’t escape the heartbreak of a what-might-have-been moment.
Motivation was forged from the occasion. The inspiration was put to good use on a gloomy Monday at Blossom Stadium.
Top-ranked LEE capitalized on its opponent’s defensive miscues and strolled past No. 4 Reagan 3-1 in a District 27-6A showdown.
It was a rematch of last year’s Region IV-6A final, which Reagan prevailed 1-0 on a goal with 10 minutes left. The Rattlers played for the UIL Class 6A title, losing to Alief Elsik 1-0 in the final.
“That’s been something that’s motivated us all throughout,” Lee defender Theo Gunter said. “It feels good to finally beat them and show why we deserve to be the No. 1 team in the city.”
LEE (12-2), No 28 in the lat-est Top Drawer Fab 50 national rankings, defeated the Rattlers (6-6-2) for the first time since a 2-1 decision on Feb. 20, 2015. The Volunteers were 0-4-4 vs. Reagan since and were held scoreless in seven of the con-tests, including all three in 2018.
The narrative changed quickly Monday as LEE grabbed the lead for good, taking a 1-0 advantage only 4½ minutes into the contest. A Reagan defender played a pass back to goalkeeper Eugenio Albo, who seemed as if he was caught off-guard by the decision and tried to clear the ball from danger
LEE forward Francisco Segura intercepted Albo’s pass and slotted a shot into an empty net. The Volunteers extended their lead to 2-0 17 minutes later when a Reagan defender attempted to head a pass back to Albo but accidentally put the ball into his own goal.
The stunning developments came after Reagan appeared to be setting the tone for the game, earning four early corner kicks.
“Right off the bat, I felt like (the Rattlers) were kind of bringing the tempo, coming at us,” LEE coach David Rogers said. “I thought we stayed com-posed.”
Reagan pulled within 2-1 at halftime with a score less than three minutes before the intermission. But the Rattlers’ chances for a second-half comeback took a big blow when one of their players received a red card in the waning moments of the first half, forcing Reagan to play shorthanded with only 10 players for the final 40 minutes.
LEE capitalized on the advantage midway through the second stanza when Alberto Martinez converted on a penalty kick after Reagan was called for a foul inside the penalty area.