One Played & Won; Two Canceled!

by Coach Steve Sparks, September 29, 2011

The report below speaks of football when to some readers it means soccer, or perhaps futbol to others.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Panthers were well prepared to face big rivals Roseland Prep, from Santa Rose, on a lovely afternoon in Boonville, and the two teams warmed as the kick-off approached. However, somehow, someone ‘dropped the ball’ and the referees did not show up. Teams and fans alike were all very disappointed as this was an eagerly anticipated match featuring the two top teams in the league from last season. This game will now be made up at a later date.

Next up, on Friday afternoon, was a match against St. Vincent’s from Petaluma, for their first ever visit to the Valley. Right from the kick-off, they appeared to be a similar team to Rincon Valley Christian whom the Panthers beat in a tough game last week, playing in a very organized yet rigid way, with several tall players winning many challenges in the air. However, the Panthers were ready for this one as they played their best forty-minute half of the season to date. Dominating possession with sweet interplay and good decision-making, to match their undoubted fine skills, AV showed that they had moved on as a team to that next level of high school football, a development that happens three or four times during each season.

It was 4-0 after 30 minutes and then three more were added in the final ten minutes of the half as the Panthers swarmed over the shell-shocked St. Vincent team. Goals from Elio Gonzales (3), Pancho Lievanos, Hector Cruz, and two from substitute Carlos Espinosa, who received expanded playing time with other strikers unavailable, provided the 7-0 half-time score line. The second half was always going to be a less dynamic performance from AV and with many bench players playing for lengthy periods, only one further goal was added, by Jose Gaxiola, against a far more determined and re-organized St. Vincent squad. It finished 8-0 to AV and as news filtered through that previously unbeaten Calistoga had lost to Roseland Prep, who also have one loss, the players knew that they were all alone at the top of the standings — with a long way still to go, they were promptly reminded.

On Monday evening, Clearlake were due in the Valley for a non-league game and the resumption of a fixture that once been an annual event between two often evenly matched teams. This game was cancelled for a few years after Clearlake called it off at the very last minute about four seasons ago. Well, they did it again! For reasons still unclear, the game was cancelled on Monday morning and AV was left without a game until this coming Friday, September 30th. Not ideal preparation for one of the biggest games of the season — Calistoga at home at 4.30pm. The next afternoon, the Panthers will travel out to the Coast for another tough test at Fort Bragg, a team that always plays well against AV and who held the Panthers to a 1-1 tie last year. It would therefore seem that this weekend’s matches will provide the biggest threats so far to AV’s current unbeaten record.

Meanwhile, the players and coaching staff greatly appreciate your attendance on the sidelines and look forward to your continuing support. Go Panthers!

Record (Won/Lost/Drawn): League 6-0-0; Overall 9-0-0. Goals: For 57; Against 2.

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