The last time the El Paso Patriots met the Laredo Heat it was a defensive contest that wasn’t until El Paso scored the night’s only goal in the game’s 80th minute.
Last night, the pair danced to a different tune.
Laredo exploded out of the gates to steal the lead in the second minute on a shot from Felix Garcia and continued to pressure El Paso throughout the night with a clear 10 to 3 advantage in shots on goal.
By the end of the night the Patriots had been thoroughly vanquished, 3-0, by the Heat.
“That was the idea,” said Heat general manager J.J. Vela about his team’s fast start. “We’d been practicing that. We knew once we scored it would open up the game because they’re a very defensive minded team and once they score they stay back.”
Max Gunderson and Esteban Bayona iced the game with back to back goals in the 38th and 39th minute.
It was exactly the kind of performance Vela wanted to see from his team against a rival divisional stalwart.
“We knew we had the tenacity and we were a little upset because they got away from us the first time,” he said. “They executed the game plan very well today.”
The Heat’s 6-1-0 record (18 points) is good for first place in their division with nearly half the year’s season behind them. The Heat and the Patriots (5-2-0, 15 points) had been tied atop the standings going into last night’s game.
“It’s always best at this halfway mark to be in first place,” Vela said. “That’s how we want to play, to be in this position; we play to be in the playoffs.”
Laredo will play the Patriots twice more before the season reaches its end.
The Heat will return to play Thursday when they host the Baton Rouge Capitals at the TAMIU soccer complex, at 8 p.m. The Heat hold a 1-0 record against Baton Rouge this season after having been knocked from the playoffs by the Capitals last year.