BY RAUL GARCIA
McALLEN — McAllen High’s Ava Alaniz operated the Bulldogs’ offense at midfield, dribbling around her defenders as she looked for an opening to take her shot.
It was the 22nd minute of the first period and the game was still scoreless until Alaniz found teammate Mallory Henderson shooting to an opening deep near the right sideline.
Henderson took the pass from Alaniz and blasted a shot into the net from 20 yards out to give the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead.
Henderson’s score opened up the flood gates as the Bulldogs (10-1, 1-0) went on to defeat the Warriors (18-1, 0-1) on the road, 6-0.
“Coming in, we were a little intimidated about the rankings, but we really pulled through,” Henderson said. “This district win will really boost our confidence, and it will lead us to a good season.”
Also scoring for the Bulldogs were Westyn Henderson, Sophie Soto, Melanie Saldaña and Bailey Huston with two goals.
Heading into the contest, both teams made the Texas Girls Coaches Association State Soccer Class 6A rankings. Rowe came in No. 4 with its 18-0 record, and McAllen High was No. 15 with a 9-1 record with its only loss coming to the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Katy Tompkins.
“I believe that is the highest we have ever been ranked in school history,” McAllen Rowe head coach John Martinez said. “It’s all nice and dandy, but obviously you have to play the game and we knew that ranking didn’t mean anything coming to play McHi. You want to be the top dog, you have to beat the top dog and it didn’t happen tonight. It’s a good accolade for the girls and for them to get that type of recognition is pretty special here at Rowe.”
McHi took command of the contest early against Rowe, showing off its ball movement across the field as they looked for gaps to score and quickly began taking their shots on goal.
Rowe’s goalkeeper and the defense worked to stop the Bulldogs’ wave of attack beginning with Melanie Saldaña’s and Alaniz’s blitzing shots on goal fired from 25 yards out.
On defense, the Bulldogs went right to work holding off Rowe’s initial attack.
The Warriors never quit.
In the second period, McAllen goalkeeper America Iracheta came off the bench and held on to the Bulldogs shutout as she stopped and scooped up multiple shots on goal late in the second period.
“I think the girls played well; they hustled well, they attacked the net well shooting and I can’t complain,” McAllen High head coach Patrick Arney said. “The girls wanted to make a statement and say hey we’re not too bad, and I think the girls did a great job of showing what they got and what they can do.”
McAllen High Hosts Mission High at home on Feb. 4.
Next up for the Warriors is La Joya Juarez-Lincoln on Feb. 4 in La Joya.
Juarez-Lincoln also made the state ranking at No. 14, and McAllen Memorial landed at No. 9.