In a showdown of two Texas clubs, powerhouses in their leagues, familiar with one another through player movement, it was no surprise that it came down to overtime to decide the outcome. The Laredo Heat prevailed, 4-2 in extra time, over a valiant ASC New Stars side that fought well after being reduced to 10 men.
Early in the match, the Heat appeared to be in great position to earn the result that the club was looking for after dropping their season opener over the weekend. In only the eleventh minute, midfielder Ernesto Serrato converted a penalty kick to give the hosts the 1-0 lead.
ASC New Stars made the first substitution of the night 23 minutes in, and drew level with the Heat only minutes later on an equalizing goal by Lukas Simon.
For the remainder of the first half, both sides held their ground and went into the break still level at 1-1 and had to feel that it was anyone’s game in the second half.
That all changed in the 47th minute as the Heat’s Irving Villanueva scored shortly to put Laredo back in front, 2-1.
The game could have gotten out of hand after a straight red card was issued to New Stars player Marcos Carrizales after a hard tackle in the middle third of the field gave the Heat a man advantage for the remaining 30-plus minutes of the match.
However, the New Stars gave a valiant defensive effort to keep the game close until the late stages. The Heat coaching staff brought in substitutions late to hold the lead, with the first goal scorer Serrato being replaced by Eduardo Gonzalez in a straight swap at forward in the 76th minute. This was followed by another substitution as Martin Moreno was moved to the bench in favor of midfielder Placide Buduri as the Heat looked to finish off the game.
The clock hit 90:00 and with three minutes of added time indicated, the Heat only had to hold on for a while longer to advance for the first time since making the Open Cup field in 2006. But a goal late in stoppage time by the New Stars’ Peter Kozlowski gave the Houston side new life, even as they were still down a man.
The match would be decided in extra time, and with the man advantage, the Heat were just too much for the New Stars. Buduri, the late substitute, rewarded his coaching staff with a goal in the first 15 minutes of extra time and then scored his second in the 119th minute, just before the final whistle would sound, giving Laredo the 4-2 victory over the visiting New Stars.
The Heat now moves on to face the San Antonio Scorpions on the road in the second round of the Open Cup. The game will be played on May 22.