South Houston forward Leobardo Vasquez makes a move inside late in the game as Cypress Ridge defenders Andres Rivas (3) and Ravi Lumba (11) close in.
DEER PARK - The end came hard Friday night for one of the most successful sports seasons in South Houston history.
A goal by Cypress Ridge junior Marlon Cardenas not quite five minutes into the contest stood up for the next 75 minutes and carried the Rams to a 1-0 victory over the Trojans in the semifinals of the Region III boys soccer tournament at Deer Park's Abshier Stadium.
The Trojans seemed on the verge of the tying goal several times over the balance of the contest but never found the anecdote for Cardenas' early score. Rams goalkeeper Seth Mabe turned away three South Houston shots in the final four minutes of the first half.
Cypress Ridge advanced to face Morton Creek in Saturday's regional championship game. Morton Creek eliminated Deer Park, the Trojans' District 22-5A rival, 2-0 in the earlier semifinal.
The Rams matched South Houston's technical skills throughout the contest and played air-tight defense, especially in the second half. Under extreme pressure from South Houston standout Leobardo Vazquez in the first half, the Rams found fresh footing in the second half by limiting Vasquez's access to the ball.
South Houston finished the season 14-8-4, a campaign that saw the Trojans win three playoff games and come within two victories of a trip to state.
South Houston freshman Jefry Hernandez works the ball against Cypress Ridge's Martinez.
Trojan senior Leobardo Vazquez knocks down Cypress Ridge's Andres Rivas with the force of a shot on goal in the first half.
Cypress Ridge sophomore Robert Garza (14) leans in on South Houston senior Alejandro Farias.
Trojan senior Jorge Pineda battles Garza for position.
South Houston junior Ediberto Garza negotiates a maze of Cypress Ridge defenders.
South Houston senior Juan Sosa fights off contact by the Rams' Andres Rivas.
Cypress Ridge players console Trojan senior Luis Rodriguez after the game.
South Houston Coach Agustin Loredo tells his players to hold their heads high after the loss.