AV Soccer 2009

by Steve Sparks, August 26, 2009

The Anderson Valley High School Boys’ soccer season got underway last Saturday with the Alumni Game which ended in a convincing 6-4 victory for the school against their bigger, stronger forbears who were not as organized or team-orientated as this year’s Panthers. Team coaches Tom Smith and Steve Sparks were justifiably very pleased with the team’s efforts in this annual battle for bragging rights around the Valley.

The new season begins in earnest this coming weekend when Drew High School from San Francisco visits the Valley in what should be a stern test for a program that has undergone a large transition over the past two seasons with over 20 players graduating. The Coaches envision a solid year in the re-structured league (just eight games) that could once again bring the Championship to Anderson Valley and, with it, the guarantee of post-season play. However, there will be many more matches (13) that are not in league play against strong opposition and therefore the overall record may not be as good as in the past four years during which the league has been won on three occasions (runner-up on the other) and the play-off semi-finals reached twice and the quarter-finals once. During this period the team’s overall record, including play-offs, is a remarkable 81 wins, 12 losses, and 5 ties, for a very impressive average of 20 wins and 3 losses a year!

This season’s team is not as well balanced as in previous years with uncertainty about a revamped defense and an untested midfield, and yet the forwards are perhaps the best in the league and will cause problems for whomever they play. Ask the Alumni!

The squad sees six returning starters: Co-Captains and seniors, Domingo Ferreyra and Omar Ferreyra; last season’s top scorer, junior Sergio Gutierrez; and The Three Amigos now in their sophomore year: Elio Gonzales, Junior Mendoza, and Hector Cruz. The other starters will come from seniors Pepe Virramontez, Rigo Guerrero, Jose Garcia, and James Viera, the freshmen, Scott Johnson and Justin Soto, and the ’keeper will be very promising freshman Christian Mendoza. The bench players are led by ’keeper Carlos Mendoza and Chavo Eligio, ably backed up by Marco Abalos, John Paula, Irving Jimenez, and freshmen Pablo Angiano, Carlos Espinosa, Sam Alvarez, and Oren Klein.

As a result of this “transitional period” many of the matches this year will more than likely be much closer than in seasons past. Last year half the games saw the Panthers win by seven goals or more! Closely fought games are a good thing for the players to experience, particularly the younger ones, and will provide them with a greater sense of achievement when they win. This will in turn create a stronger sense of team spirit for future battles.

The team will not play at The Mendocino County Fair this season. Football is back for that occasion and let’s hope the guys on the gridiron can continue the soccer team’s winning ways of the past two years. Some weeks later, in early October, Fort Bragg will be the visitors for the Homecoming game at the Fairgrounds. As always your support is encouraged and will be much appreciated by players and coaches alike throughout the coming season.

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