Red River Athletic Conference Playoffs:
The Jaguars’ season came to an end losing to LSU Alexandria’s Generals at home, but their playoff appearance established a new era for the men’s soccer team at Texas A&M University San Antonio.
A&M-San Antonio earned its first playoff berth in university history just one year after the team’s inaugural season.
LSU-Alexandria (6-6-4) beat A&M-San Antonio (7-4-3) advancing to the next round of the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament Nov. 5.
With their season on the line, the Jags were amped from the very start.
“We’re going to win this game!” The Jags cried, after closing their team huddle as the game got underway.
Within the first eight minutes of the match, the Generals struck first, with forward Daniel Torrenegra scoring their first goal off of a penalty kick to start the day (1-0).
Efren Duarte, business management freshman and defensive midfielder for A&M-San Antonio, didn’t take long to answer back. Electrifying the home crowd, Duarte scored a game-tying goal just four minutes later (1-1). Duarte scored the first goal in postseason history for A&M-San Antonio.
“Honestly, I feel like it’s just another goal,” Duarte said. “It’s just another day as a forward to score and give it my all. It’s an honor to make history at the school, to do things that others haven’t done and we’re going to keep it going. We’re going to make more history. We’re going to go crazy.”
The game then became defensive afterwards until Torrenegra scored the final goal of the game for LSU-Alexandria 30 minutes before halftime (2-1).
Despite the Jags’ efforts to tie the lead, LSU-Alexandria excelled at moving the ball and pacing the clock, leaving A&M-San Antonio few opportunities to cut the deficit before gametime expired.
Members of the team shared their concluding thoughts about representing A&M-San Antonio during this historic season.
“It all came from determination and hardwork, believing in each other,” said Victor Villarreal, criminology senior and star goalkeeper. “No one thought we would be here in this position, but we made it happen. It just shows what kind of program will develop over the next two to three years and I’m looking forward to all the underclassmen being successful in the future.”
Team captain Antonio Juarez-Alvarez, kinesiology junior and defender, agreed.
“It felt great, I’m proud of the team,” Juarez-Alvarez said. ”It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We were 0-3 and then we got to 5-3-3. We made our first playoff game and made history. We just have to learn from this and apply it to next year.”
The A&M-San Antonio men’s soccer team ended its season finishing 7-5-3 and sporting a win percentage of 56.7 overall. Six players on the team ended the season with All Conference honors: Freshman forward Efren Duarte, freshman midfielder Julian Leon and junior defender Antonio Juarez-Alvarez were named to the RRAC all-second team. Sophomore defender Sebastian Palomino and Victor Villarreal received RRAC honorable mentions, while freshman defender Giovani Garcia made the All-Freshman roster.
Robert Jaramillo, the program’s new head coach, led the team to its vastly improved season from its one-win inaugural year in 2021.
“It’s a testament to the hard work the kids have put in,” Jaramillo said. “We made them work hard and gave them a bunch of homework to do, a lot they had to learn on the go. There were five guys here back in January, and we got another 18 in August so we put this thing together in the last two or three months and I give them a lot of credit; all the credit goes to the kids. They work hard, they’re smart, and of course they’re really good soccer players.”
Jaramillo spoke on the loss as well.
“My kids gave it their all, they did what they were supposed to do and we tried to do the best we could. We have to give LSU-A a lot of credit.”
The afternoon concluded with A&M-San Antonio’s cheerleaders serenading the team following the tough ending to their season.
“We are proud of you, say we are proud of you!”
For more information and news about A&M-San Antonio’s men’s and women’s soccer teams, visit their social media accounts on Instagram @tamusa_menssoccer and @tamusawomenssoccer. Or follow the teams’ coverage @tamusasports on all other media sources.