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Aztex Stay in First

Looking for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Nick Barbaro, 4:57pm, Tue. Jul. 9, 2013
photo by Photo: Kathleen Pait, courtesy of Austin Aztex
Andres Cuero celebrates a goal against West Texas Friday night
The Austin Aztex didn’t have the game they wanted Friday night at House Park, but they got the result they needed, as Andres Cuero’s two second-half headers produced a 2-1 comeback win over the feisty West Texas Sockers, solidifying the Aztex’ playoff position, and keeping them in position for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Sockers pressured the Aztex high up the field throughout the first half Friday night, thoroughly disrupting the Aztex’ passing game. A mysterious PK call, converted, put the visitors up 1-0 in the 28th minute, but the game turned on a brutal Sockers foul late in the half, a kick to the head of Aztex keeper Devin Cook that got West Texas forward Juan Nava sent off. Up a man, the Aztex smelled blood and completely controlled the second half, outshooting West Texas 16-0. The goals both came on Cuero’s headers, converting two beautiful crosses: a curling free kick by Chuy Cortes in the 58th minute, and Danny Riley’s chip back into the middle from the end line in the 89th. Cuero leads the team in scoring with seven goals and two assists, all coming in the last six games.

It was a huge win for the Aztex, who are playing not just for the Mid South Division title (which they could clinch Saturday night in their home finale against Oklahoma City), but for the right to host the Southern Conference Final Four in Austin on July 26 and 28, instead of having to travel to Florida. If they win out in their last three games, the Aztex will finish with the best record in the Southern Conference; any less than that, and the door is open for the Panama City Beach Pirates (gotta love the name) to claim that honor, and the playoff hosting bid that goes with it.

The Austin Aztex 2013 regular season finale is this Saturday night, July 13, at 7:30pm at House Park. They finish up with a road trip to West Texas and El Paso the next week, July 18 and 20, and after the ill-tempered affair Friday night, that July 18 date in Midland could be very interesting indeed. …

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