Panther Soccer (Aug 31, 2016)

by Coach Steve Sparks, August 31, 2016

The 2016 Boys' Football entered the second week of the new season with two more road games. both of which were non-league, but matches that will count in the team’s final record and postseason seeding discussions.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the team traveled with the girls team to Kelseyville for a double header. The boys dominated most of the game and jumped into an early 3-0 lead thanks to goals by Christian Guerrero, David Eligio, and freshman Brian Bucio, with his first high school goal. However, as a result of an ill-disciplined period of defensive play towards the end of the first half, a game that should have been over by the half remained close, and despite two more goals for AV from Eligio and Gerardo Torales, the hosts scored three of their own to make it 5-3 to AV at the break. The second half was better and two goals from Chirro Tovar, plus a much better defensive effort resulted in the final 7-3 scoreline.

Last Saturday morning the team traveled to San Francisco for a third successive non-league match. This was against Urban High School. the winners of last season’s bigger school postseason championship. (AV won the smaller schools title in case you forgot), and was played at Kezar Stadium, the original home of the 49ers. To give the game some socio-economic perspective, it would be a battle of The Grape-pickers vs The Wine-sippers! With little of the expected traffic, the team arrived with an hour to spare before pre-game warm-ups and so we took a walk around the Upper Haight. a very different experience for the boys of AV to absorb. Having lived in The City for 17 years I thoroughly enjoyed going down “Memory Lane” and hope the players took in some of the “culture” on display.

The game kicked off with a crowd of 30 or so home supporters along with a few of my own friends, soccer players and coaches from my time there. The Panthers started well and should have scored an early goal when David Eligio sent in a header that crashed against the cross bar and out. The game was very even and played at quite a high level for so early in the season but the hometown “Blues” took a barely deserved lead on a swift counter attack and it was 1-0 to Urban at the half. AV should have equalized on a couple of occasions in the second half and when an Urban defender was sent-off with twenty minutes to go it seemed that the pregame underdog Panthers were now in a very favorable position to win.

However, sometimes playing with an extra man does not work as an advantage and, with the Panthers losing concentration, in the space of eight minutes Urban scored two goals to secure a flattering 3-0 win. The AV players were very disappointed but I explained that they would win games in the future when not playing as well as they had on this occasion.

It was a solid effort that was rewarded with a visit to the nearby Kezar Pub for a postgame meal. The owner, Cyril Hackett, is a friend of mine, and he was a fine host, giving out hats, t-shirts, and other soccer souvenirs to the players. This was capped when four of my friends who had joined us for the meal, upon hearing that our school does not pay for player meals (as the schools in San Francisco do), very generously paid the whole $360 tab between them. The boys were very appreciative and I was quite moved by this wonderful gesture. It had been a great experience for one and all and the effort put in by myself to arrange the game, coaching the game, being the guardian of 16 teenage boys in San Francisco, and driving there and back, had been well worth it. Thanks should be extended to my assistant coach Eddie Ferreyra for his help before, during, and after the game, plus in driving the second van.

The season’s first home game is (was) Monday, August 29th against Middletown at 4.30pm. Then the first league match, away at Tech HS in Petaluma on Wednesday afternoon, before a second league match takes place at home at 4.30pm on Friday, September 2nd against Point Arena. Next Wednesday, September 7th, sees a further home game. against perennial rivals for the league title, Roseland Prep. As always your support at the matches is much appreciated. We play exciting football and, as I’ve often said, vociferous crowd support is probably worth a goal a game! Hope to see you there.

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