A nasty on-field brawl following a Texas boys soccer playoff game led to the hospitalization of three student athletes and an ongoing investigation into both teams as one moves forward in the playoffs.
Harlandale and Victoria East boys soccer players brawl after a playoff game — NewsCenter25.com screenshot
As reported by the Associated Press, CrossroadsToday.com, the Victoria Advocate and San Antonio Express-News, among other sources, a University Interscholastic League Class 4A third round playoff game between Harlandale (Texas) High and Victoria (Texas) East High ended in extreme acrimony when a fist fight broke out between players of the two teams as players walked through a traditional postgame handshake line.
CrossroadsToday.com reported that eyewitnesses claimed Harlandale players started the violent skirmish, and they appeared to get the best of it, as well. Two Victoria East players were sent to a nearby hospital in San Antonio, one with a broken nose. Additionally, Victoria East head coach Tim Eaton was "sucker punched" by a Harlandale player, according to Victoria East assistant coach Brady Cagle.
According to the Advocate, the two hospitalized East players -- David Andrade and Esau Lopez -- were released from the hospital a day after the brawl without any signs of lasting injuries, though a Victoria East coach claimed the victims were considering legal action. Naturally, that hardly eased the disappointment and shock of Victoria East players and coaches after what should have been a simple celebration of a playoff victory devolved into mass delirium.
Harlandale officials moved quickly to assert that they will be launching a thorough investigation into the ugly postgame victory, with a future verdict on the incident to be filed by Harlandale Independent School District itself.
"The actions of our players are unacceptable," Harlandale ISD said in a statement to the media. "Upon a complete review of all the information gathered, we will take appropriate action concerning all parties involved.
"Harlandale ISD is taking this incident very seriously. It is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for as a community."
Victoria ISD officials insisted that they couldn't hold the incident against their Harlandale counterparts, who tried to halt the brawl as promptly as possible
"They are out there trying to control the game," Escalona said. "It's impossible to control a kid's actions when you don't know what they are going to do. Harlandale had plenty of coaches, people and (School Resource Officers), but when you are going through a line, you can't control what a kid is thinking."