On a perfect field and on a night with perfect weather conditions in front of over 275 fans from both teams the inaugural Texas Premier Soccer League Texas Cup Final kicked off at 7:45 pm on Saturday, November 30th. The match would see the Houston Dutch Lions FC taking on the Houston Hurricanes FC battling to see who would have the right to lift the cup. The clubs had met already once in the regular season, a 5-1 Lions victory, and also in tough physical match in the group phase where the Houston Dutch Lions FC won 3-2 in the dying seconds of the game. With a big prize and Houston bragging rights on the line the Lions staff and coaches knew that the finals match would bring out the best in the Hurricanes, and neither side would disappoint.
Photo Credit: Houston Dutch Lions
Unfortunately for the Lions, it would be the Hurricanes that would come out and take early control of the match. The Lions had the first chance in the match just 10 seconds in when Javier Vazquez’s shot hit the crossbar. Just 3 minutes later it was the Houston Hurricanes FC who took the 1-0 lead in the game. The Hurricanes sent a cross into the box from the right side that looked to be was controlled by Lions defender Juan Lozoya with his chest, but the referee interpreted this action as the ball being controlled with his hand and gave the Hurricanes FC a penalty kick. Hurricanes FC striker Hector Diaz stepped to the spot and chose the right corner and buried the shot to give the Canes the early 1-0 lead. Following the early goal by the visitors, the Houston Dutch Lions FC seemed rattled and this effected their play throughout the first half. The ball movement was not as smooth as it normally is and the Lions seemed to struggle to find any kind of rhythm. HDLFC striker Cesar Arellano worked hard to keep the ball with him at the right moments and had some scoring chances but was very unlucky in his finishing. With the halftime score of 1-0 and some very dominating play the Hurricanes FC appeared to be on their way to winning the Texas Cup.
During the break, Lions head coach Marco Pruis instructed his players to remain patient and continue to look for their chances. The Lions came out of the break looking fresh and ready to score some goals, but against all odds it was the Hurricanes FC who scored again to double their lead. In a moment of transition there were too many HDLFC players in front of the ball and because of this the Lions paid the highest price. Once again it was Hurricanes striker Hector Diaz who scored, this time in the 55th minute, putting the Hurricanes FC in a perfect spot for the knock out going up 2-0. Just moments after gaining a two goal advantage, the ‘Canes attack continued as one of their players unleashed perfectly aimed shot that to give his team a three goal lead. It was Lions goalkeeper Israel Becerra who rode to the occasion, possibly swinging the game’s momentum, and made the perfect save to keep his boys within two goals.
After the Hurricanes second goal and the excellent Becerra save that followed, the Oranje Legion showed their support and helped get their Lions back in the game. After an excellent example of combination soccer it was second half substitution Giovanni Najar who would begin the Lions comeback. In the 65th minute Najar was able to receive and finish the perfect cross from Jesus ‘Chuy’ Vidal and quickly all the tension was back in the game with the Lions only down 2-1. Just 2 minutes after their opening goal the score was equal again once again after more good combination soccer brought the ball to right defender Juan Lozoya who’s kick was unstoppable for the Hurricanes goalkeeper to knot the match at 2-2. With the score equal the game was now either team’s match to win with over 20 minutes of playing time left and neither side backing down. The Lions used the Lozoya equalizer as motivation to step it up and keep trying to create chances through combination soccer. This improved ball movement from the boys in orange resulted in another cross from the side where once again Najar was there to finish and give the Lions a 3-2 lead in the 80th minute of the game.
After a unnecessary foul on the sideline, Lions right defender Juan Lozoya received his second yellow card of the match and the Lions would be forced to finish the game with 10 players. The final ten minutes of the match were extremely hectic and the HDLFC had some opportunities to seal the match, but again had problems finishing. This lack of finishing would come back to bite the Lions when against all odds in the 95th minute the score became tied at 3-3. In the final seconds of the game it was Hurricanes striker Emmanuel Ebi who finished a cross and brought a huge reaction from the Hurricanes FC sideline. This would remain the score at the end of regulation an the teams were headed to overtime.
Photo Credit: Houston Dutch Lions
After such an exciting 90 minutes it only seemed fitting that the fans would be treated with overtime, and now two 15 minute halves were added to the game. The Lions were in a tough spot from the beginning still being down a man. In overtime both squads saw small chances, big chances and everything in between. It all happened in the 30 minutes of overtime but no goals. This would mean that the TPSL Texas Cup Winner would be determined with penalty kicks. First up for the Lions was left forward David Otoya, who has had playing an amazing season so far. Unfortunately his penalty kick ended up on the post and not past the Hurricanes keeper. The remainder of the HDLFC penalty kicks all ended behind the goalkeeper with Jose Hernandez, Jonathan Segovia, Giovanni Najar and Luke Keogh all beating the keeper and scoring. The PK count was 4-4 and the Hurricanes FC had the chance to shoot the final penalty kick to seal the win, but Becerra stayed calm and stopped the penalty kick. With this save the Houston Dutch Lions FC were still in the race for the Texas Cup. Next up for the Lions was Olivier Fillion, who stayed amazingly cool and scored for the HDLFC putting all the pressure on the Hurricanes FC. On the penalty shot that followed goalkeeper Becerra stopped his second scoring chance in a row bringing the Houston Dutch Lions FC the tournament championship and the Texas Cup. Your 2013 Texas Premier Soccer League Admiral Texas Cup winners are the Houston Dutch Lions FC.