The Austin Aztex (13-1-2) defense remained stingy and two goals were enough to dispatch the Laredo Heat to win the Southern Conference Championship Saturday evening in front of a franchise record 2,673 fans at House Park.
“It’s amazing,” Aztex forward Khiry Shelton said. “Everybody’s been working hard not just to get here but to keep going.”
Laredo had a quick start to their match as they pressed Austin’s defenders into early turnovers as they attempted to build their attack from the back. However, the Aztex defenders were able to get on track and stifled Laredo’s attack.
The Aztex jumped to a lead in the 25th minute when defender Leone Cruz sent a perfect long ball from the back line to break forward Khiry Shelton free for a one-on-one with Heat goalkeeper Emmanuel Frias. Frias was able to steer Shelton away from goal, leaving the Heat goal exposed. Shelton turned and sent a pass back to Sito Seoane, who smashed the ball in for the first goal.
“We were trying different things and I noticed that Khiry had a little bit of space,” Cruz said. “I told myself from the time before that if I could get it to him it would get us maybe an opportunity to score. Khiry was on the same page.”
Shelton remained the difference maker throughout the game. Shelton’s size and speed created mismatches throughout the game as Laredo tried to come up with a solution to the tall forward.
Shelton clinched the game for the Aztex in the 86th minute when Austin connected a series of passes to find Tucker Hume open in front of goal. Hume made the unselfish play to pass the ball to Shelton, who hammered the ball home.
The Aztex move on to the USL PDL League Championships, where they will face the winners of the remaining conference champions in a single-elimination final four tournament. The location will be held at one of the four cities. Austin has submitted their bid to host the tournament.
“Preparation,” Cruz said on what was next for the Aztex. “We don’t know what’s going to happen or where we are going to be playing. We know that there is going to be another game so we are going to treat it like any other game and be focused.”
Score: Austin Aztex 2 (13-1-2) vs. Laredo Heat 0 (9-3-4)
Date: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Where: House Park, Austin, Texas
Austin Aztex: Devin Cook, Zack Pope, Aaron Guillen, Leone Cruz, Max Gunderson, Zach Garcia, Tony Rocha, Andres Cuero (Tucker Hume, 77’), Khiry Shelton, Kris Tyrpak (Chuy Cortes, 73’), Sito Seoane (Eddy Campbell, 57’)
Subs Not Used: John Kaschak, Walker Hume, Jeff Harwell, Alesi Osorio
Cautions: Sito Seoane (52’)
Laredo Heat: Emmanuel Frias, Felipe Souza (Joao Monteiro, 68’), Camilo Botero, Ian Barbosa (Daniel Garza, 45’), Yosmel De Armas, Gregory Mulamba, Ljubomir Kocic (Juan Ibarra, 45’), Francisco Lara (Jorge Rocha, 81’), Placide Buduri (Daniel Galvan, 62’), Yair Hernandez, McMor Eligwe (Daniel Navarro, 59’)
Subs Not Used: Jose Antonio Romero
Cautions: Yair Hernandez (46’), Felipe Souza (53’)
Player: Assist: Minute:
ATX: Seoane Shelton 25’
ATX: Shelton T. Hume 86’