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Falcons drop another close battle with Aztecs

By Michael Smith
The Examiner
Van Horn senior forward Edison Rios, front left, reacts after the Falcons were edged 2-1 by rival Guadalupe Centers in the championship game of the KC Cup Saturday at Vam Horn.

The Van Horn and Guadalupe Centers Charter Academy boys soccer teams aren’t in the same conference or class, but these teams have developed quite the rivalry over the past few years.

Since 2015, games between the two teams have been decided by just one goal. Saturday’s Kansas City Cup championship game was no different.

In another hard-fought battle, Aztecs avenged an overtime loss to the Falcons in last season’s tournament title game as Luckyboy Tarley powered the offense with two goals in a 2-1 win over Van Horn, marking their second KC Cup Tournament win in the last three years.

Van Horn defender Daniel Aguilar, center, makes a sliding tackle on the ball to rob Guadalupe Centers forward Luckyboy Tarley of a scoring opportunity in their KC Cup final Saturday at Van Horn. Tarley scored both goals for Guadalupe in a 2-1 win over the Falcons.

“We kind of go back and forth with them every year,” Guadalupe coach Ricky Olivares said. “It’s become a fun tradition here.

“We know they are going to play hard, and we know we are going to play hard. And the spectators love it. If it wasn’t for COVID, I would say there would have been double or triple the amount of people out here.”

Every season the games with Guadalupe are ones that Van Horn coach Jesus Rodriguez looks forward to the most as it’s often a matchup between two premier teams in the Kansas City area. This year, the Aztecs (7-1) came into the tournament as the defending Class 2 state champions.

Van Horn's Enil Arteaga (10) splits Guadalupe Centers defenders Ismail Avila Sepulveda (26) and Kevin Vieyra (14) in Saturday's KC Cup final at Van Horn. Guadalupe Cenetrs claimed a 2-1 win.

“It’s always a fun game,” Rodriguez said. “The players on both teams know each other from their club teams. It’s one of those games where if we are undefeated and they have zero wins, it’s still going to be a competitive game. We don’t want to lose to each other.”

That was apparent in Saturday’s physical contest in which both teams took turns possessing the ball, with the Aztecs holding a slight edge in that regard. Tarley opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a close-range shot.

“Luckyboy is a special, special, special player,” Olivares said. “He’s got the knowledge beyond his years.”

Van Horn (7-2) answered in the 20th minute off a corner kick. Senior Edison Rios booted the ball toward the right goalpost. Senior defender Kyne Butcher sent a pass to the left side that was deflected by a Aztec defender but junior midfielder Jorge Venegas knocked in a close-range shot to tie it.

Guadalupe Centers goalkeeper Henry Godinez, right, punches the ball out as Van Horn's Kobe Otano, left, and Guadalupe's Elhadj Diallo converge late in Saturday's KC Cup final at Van Horn. Guadalupe hung on to edge the Falcons 2-1.

Tarley later put the Aztecs ahead for good when he maneuvered behind two Van Horn defenders on the left wing and drilled a shot off the hands of leaping goalkeeper Cooper Sumpter into the top third of the goal.

“We came out flat,” Rodriguez said of his Falcons. “I tried to yell at our guys in pregame warmups because I could see the tension they had, especially our defense because they know the quality of player No. 10 (Tarley) is. I told the guys, we neutralize him and we win the game.

“He’s the only threat they have that’s very explosive and can make you pay. It was one of those games where one player made the difference.”

Van Horn came close to tying the game late when Rios nearly scored on a header off a long free kick from Diego Coronado, but it just went wide of the goal.

Van Horn senior forward Edison Rios, left, tries to get a bicycle kick past Guadalupe Centers goalkeeper Henry Godinez as Guadalupe's Elhadj Diallo (24) looks on in the KC Cup final Saturday at Van Horn. Rios narrowly missed a tying goal as the Falcons fell 2-1.

With a little more than 5 minutes left, Aztecs goalkeeper Henry Godinez came out to challenge Rios on the right wing, leaving the net wide open. Rios then used a bicycle kick that nearly punched the ball into the net. However, the ball bounced too high and went over the crossbar, just missing a chance to send the game to overtime.

“I was hoping that was going in,” Rodriguez said. “Unfortunately, it bounced too long over the top. We have a lot to learn from this. We are going to keep working and keep improving.”

Van Horn's Edison Rios, back, and Guadalupe Centers' Elhadj Diallo battle for possession in Saturday's championship of the KC Cup at Van Horn. Guadalupe claimed a 2-1 win.
Van Horn's Edison Rios, left, and Jorge Venegas (17) and Guadalupe Centers' Elhadj Diallo (24) try to track down a loose ball in Saturday's KC Cup finals. Guadalupe, the defending Class 2 state champion, edged the host Falcons 2-1.