Panther Soccer 2013

by Coach Steve Sparks, December 4, 2013

The 2013 high school boys soccer season ended in ultimate victory for Anderson Valley — the post season Championship. However, as followers of the team are well aware, it was a roller-coaster ride and a number of hurdles had to be cleared before our victory came a cou­ple of weeks ago on the final day of the season.

The team started exceptionally well with a 13-game winning streak over the first half of the season. This run included wins at traditional rivals and powerhouses Cal­istoga at their Homecoming, and at home against Rose­land Prep and St. Vincent’s. The run came to an end in very controversial circumstances at Fort Bragg in early October when some atrocious officiating directly led to a 0-2 defeat. The referee in question was not allowed to referee one of our games again.

Following that loss, the team went through an incon­sistent couple of weeks that saw a few good wins but also two more tough losses, although we then regrouped and finished the regular season well, finishing as run­ners-up in the league standings, just one win behind Roseland Prep.

Next up was the postseason in which we were made the #1 seed. We took advantage of the home field advantage that comes with that designation and were worthy winners in all three of our play-off games, culmi­nating in the 1-0 victory in the final game against Drew High School from San Francisco.

It is a tribute to this group who are listed below that they stuck together through a season of 24 matches and whenever an individual was having a tough time, there was a collective team spirit that picked them up. And when the team as a whole felt that ‘the world was against them’, they bonded and together they fought back and finished up as true and deserving champions…

Four players were voted on to the All-League Team by the coaches of other teams:

1st Team All League: Jose Gaxiola, senior; Erik Martinez, senior; Abraham Sanchez, sophomore.

And 1st Team Honorable Mention: Omar Solano, senior.

Other seniors, who will all be missed next season: Danny Espinoza, Jose de Jesus Lievanos, Lalo Avalos, and Chuy Sanchez, a former All-league 1st team player himself, and the team’s manager this season, who was a tremendous help every single day at practice.

Next up are these players from the Junior class who will be a fine group of leaders next season. The first two are our 2013 Most Improved Players: Efrain Gonzales and Mosies Segura. And the other 11th graders are Gual­berto Gasrtelum, Fabian Sanchez, and Romario Espi­noza.

And the Sophomores. Abraham Sanchez, the only sophomore to make the All-League team from any school, Fernando Ferreyra, Izac Parra, Francisco Espi­noza, and Chuy Valdivia.

Finally the freshmen, the first three of whom were starters for most of the season. Gerardo Torales, Chris­tian Guerrero, Isidro Tovar, Dario Gonzales, Nati Alva­rez, David Eligio.

Next we have the Coach’s Awards.

I believe these four individuals, in different ways, represent a range of qualities that are important for the high school student athlete; traits that will hopefully be of even greater use in the real world. These include dili­gence and effort on the playing field and in the class­room, dealing with adversity, taking responsibility for one's actions, showing respect for one's peers and lead­ers, and a desire and ability to work with others towards a common goal: Chuy Sanchez, Gualberto Gastelum, Moises Segura, and Abraham Sanchez.

Just before I turn to my concluding remarks, I would like to congratulate Flick McDonald and the Volleyball girls for yet another fantastic season and also Danny Kuny and his footballers on a season of hard work and team-building with a program that seems to have a very healthy future indeed.

Finally, I would like to thank the students and those in the community for their much appreciated support at our matches; the “almost indispensable” Mr. Pinoli for his continuing efforts as Athletic Director; my assistant coaches Eddie Ferreyra and Nikola Milojevich for their soccer knowledge and input at practices; Keevan Labowitz for his assistance at some of our road games; Principal Michelle Hutchins for her unwavering support; school secretaries Rebecca and Veronica, who had to deal with my many questions and requests; the guys pre­paring the school vans for our many long road trips; and my Mum and Dad, 6000 miles away in England, who in our weekly phone conversations, never fail to ask me how the Panthers are doing.

The season ended with the program’s third League Championship in four years and on behalf of the entire team and coaches, I thank the community for their sup­port throughout the year. Let’s do it again in 2014!

2013 Season Record (won/lost/drawn): League 14-2-1 Overall 20-3-1. Goals scored: 106. Goals conceded: 13.

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