skip navigation

Heat host Irving in Lone Star Conference semifinals

By Jason Mack | Laredo Heat SC, 07/12/22, 12:30PM CDT


The Laredo Heat SC opens the postseason at home Tuesday hosting the Irving FC Gallos in the Lone Star Conference semifinals at the TAMIU Soccer Complex.

Jordan Mase

Laredo looks to follow regular season title with postseason championship

With the goal of a regular season Lone Star Conference title realized, the focus for the Laredo Heat SC shifts to the playoffs and the postseason league championship. The Heat open that push at 8 p.m. Tuesday hosting the Irving FC Gallos at the TAMIU Soccer Complex in the Lone Star Conference semifinals.

The Heat (8-1-3) took care of business last week picking up draws against fellow playoff teams Brownsville and San Antonio to earn the regular season title outright and claim the No. 1 seed. It is Laredo’s second title in four seasons in the National Premier Soccer League, and now the team will attempt to match the 2018 season by winning the Lone Star Conference postseason championship as well.

“We knew the first goal was to qualify for the playoffs, and the second goal was to finish first and host the playoffs through Laredo. Now it’s like a clean slate,” Heat head coach John Powell said. “I’d never diminish what the boys have done in the first 12 games, but now it’s like everyone is 0-0. It’s important to come out and show really well in the playoff opener.”

Last season, the Heat entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and advanced to the conference championship match before falling to eventual national champion Denton. With the Diablos failing to qualify for the postseason this year, the conference will feature a new champion.

Laredo’s road to the championship opens with an unfamiliar opponent as it did not face Irving in the regular season. The only meeting in the series was on May 28, 2021 as Laredo pulled ahead 1-0 early in the second half but lost 2-1 in its home opener.

The Gallos (6-1-5) are making their first postseason appearance in their second year of competition after missing out by just a point in their debut season going 4-5-1 in 2021. They qualified on the final day of the regular season Saturday as their 4-1 win over Fort Worth combined with Denton’s 3-1 loss at Lubbock to vault them into the fourth and final spot. They enter the playoffs on an 11-game unbeaten streak with their lone loss coming in the season opener at Denton.

“It worked out in our conference that every team did not play one other team, and it happened to be a team that is really good. We’ve seen them play a lot on film because they played all the other teams we’ve been prepping for,” Powell said. “It’s a good test for us. We know they were very good last year and are very good this year. We just have to prepare like we prepared for every other match. They're going to come in with a game plan, we’re going to have a game plan, and we’ll go out there and execute.”

The four goals Saturday continued a late-season offensive surge for Irving. It scored only seven goals in its first seven matches, but it has recorded another 24 in the past five games. The schedule played a part in the surge as 23 of those 24 goals came against three of the four lowest-ranked defenses in the league in Temple, Fort Worth and Houston.

Irving’s offense will be put to the test as the Heat finished as the No. 1 defense in the 95-team NPSL allowing only 0.67 goals per game. The next-closest team was the Duluth FC at 0.77 goals allowed. Laredo’s scoreless draw with San Antonio marked its sixth clean sheet of the season, and it allowed only one goal in five of the other six matches.

“Slowing down their offense has to be a goal of ours. Another clean sheet and we’re very likely to move on to Saturday’s final,” Powell said. “We won’t change anything about what we prioritize. We want to make sure we defend extremely hard and are hard to break down. The boys will keep doing what they’ve been doing all summer.”

The Gallos feature the second-best defense in the league finishing only three behind Laredo with 11 goals allowed. They recorded four shutouts including three on the road, but just like the late offensive surge, those four road shutouts came against Fort Worth, Houston and Temple at the bottom of the table. They also had a scoreless draw at home against Lubbock. Irving finished 3-0-3 at home and 3-1-2 on the road.

Laredo is coming off its first scoreless match of season, but it averaged 3.8 goals in the other five home games. That includes a pair of 5-1 victories over Austin and Houston.

“The coaching staff and I believe in all our players including our attacking players,” Powell said. “It’s the first game all summer where we’ve been shut out, so I’m not concerned about it. It’s not a trend at all, it was just a unique game where both teams knew if they got a clean sheet they would do what they needed to do on the day. We’re not reading into that at all. The guys are firing up top, and we’re going to be just fine.”

While the Heat and Irving did not play this season, there is familiarity among the rest of the playoff teams which suggests it could be a tight race to the title. Laredo went 1-0-3 in matches against Brownsville (8-3-1) and San Antonio (7-2-3) as it beat the Explorers 2-0 at home and drew 1-1 on the road, and it drew 1-1 at San Antonio and 0-0 at home. Irving played at home in both matchups with playoff teams beating Brownsville 2-1 and drawing 1-1 against San Antonio.

The Heat will attempt to extend their season at 8 p.m. Tuesday against the Gallos at the TAMIU Soccer Complex, and if they win, they will host the conference championship Saturday at the same time. Tickets for the playoff matches remain $5 for general admission and $20 for VIP with children 12 and under getting in free.

Visit and follow @laredoheatsc on social media to stay up to date on the latest news. Any youth players interested in joining the academy can visit for more information.

Most Popular

News Sponsor

Visit Website

Lewis Wilson

Dimitrios Leonoglou

Roberto Ordonez