Diego Valadez deflected home a late cross to give the Vista Ridge a 3-2 win against Vandegrift at home on Tuesday night.
The Rangers move to 6-3 in district play, two games ahead of Leander with three games left in the regular season. The Vipers fall to 3-6-1 and trail the Lions for the fourth and final playoff spot with just two games and a bye left.
“Anytime you get a win in this district it’s huge,” Vista Ridge head coach Sam Reed said. “Every team is able to beat every other team. Our preseason really prepared us for the strain of the district.”
The games as tied 2-2 at the break. Juniors Victor Orona and Armando Vidal scored for Vista Ridge in the first half, while juniors Tim Barney and Juan Gonzalez got on the scoresheet for Vandegrift in the opening period.
Vista Ridge midfielder Matthew Naugle sent a cross in off a throw-in as the second half wound down and Valadez tipped it in.
The Vipers threw everybody forward for a last second corner kick, but the Rangers cleared to hold on for the win.
“It was a dogfight and it literally came down to the last minute of the game,” Vandegrift head coach Cody Brown said. “I thought we were the better team and the result didn’t match that. Soccer is won in the trenches and you’ve got to battle all the way to the end.”
The Vipers won’t be able to pick up any position as they have a bye on Friday night. They host Hays on Mar. 6 and finish the regular seen on the road at Lake Travis on Mar. 9.
“We need to win our last two games,” Brown said. “A couple games separate second and sixth, so there can be a lot of movement in these last three games.”
Vista Ridge is on the road against Hays on Friday night and finishes the season with games against Lake Travis and Westlake, the only two teams they’re currently looking up in the standings at.
“We need to play like we did tonight,” Reed said. “Every team is really good so you have to be mentally ready. Hopefully, we can carry the intensity from tonight into Friday.”