Panther Soccer (Sep 7, 2016)

by Coach Steve Sparks, September 7, 2016

I have been informed that there is a shortage of space in the newspaper and I have been asked to cut down my soccer reports to about 500 words - a little over a third of their usual length, and hardly enough to give any sort of report other than just the scores and upcoming games. I find the request disappointing as I am aware of many folks who enjoy reading the latest updates on our local school team. I believe the articles are more popular in our community than the ‘supreme leaders’ are perhaps aware of. And in many cases I know that these fútbol commentaries provide a first introduction to the newspaper for many people in the Valley among our Hispanic community. The reports are usually about 1200 -1500 words in length but 1000 would be workable and so if you feel that is something you would like to see continue then please contact me at 57villan@gmail.com and I will forward your comments to the 'powers-that-be’. They are reasonable gentlemen and hopefully they will see the light and a way to make it happen.

The team played their first home game of the season last Monday when Middletown were the visitors for a non-league match at Tom Smith Field alongside the high school. The Panthers dominated the game throughout and led 5-0 at the half thanks to goals by Eligio (2), Cirro Tovar, Brian Bucio, and Gerardo Torales. In the second half A.V. continued to control the game and this allowed for the steady introduction of the bench players so that by the game’s end 21 Panther players had made an appearance - quite possibly the most ever to appear in a game. Further goals from Juan Reynoso and Christian Guerra resulted in a 7-0 final scoreline and a very satisfactory and complete performance was no doubt enjoyed by the hometown fans in attendance.

Two days later, the team was on the road for the fourth time in five games when they made the long trip down Highway 101 to Rohnert Park, home of Tech H.S. The hosts’ home field was undergoing renovation so the game was played a nearby elementary school on a field that was poor to say the least. It was also small and this would certainly help the underdog Tech team. Nevertheless, the Panthers adapted to the situation well and despite captain Gerardo Torales sidelined by a knee injury suffered in the game on Monday, they still managed to prove far too much for the young and over-matched Tech team. It finished 6-1 to A.V. with goals from Eligio (2), Bucio (2), and Reynoso (2) and once again the bench players (just five on this road trip) all played significant minutes that included Miguel Rangel making an impressive high school debut in this, his junior year.

Friday’s home game against Point Arena was canceled with the announcement that the Pirates would not be fielding a team this year. A sad development for a program that has long been a competitive rival for the Panthers, although in recent years they have certainly struggled. While this is a disappointment I am sure, like myself, the players will not miss playing on the Pirates’ terrible and even dangerous field out there on the coast. Meanwhile, Potter Valley, who have struggled to field a team since joining the league four seasons ago, have also folded and so another home game on the schedule has been lost.

Moving on. Today, Wednesday, September 7th at 4.30pm, at Tom Smith Field, the first of four crucial match-ups against perennial rials for the league title will take place. Rosaland Prep are the visitors on this occasion and I have no doubt that a display of high school football at its finest will be served up. Based on the early season results so far, it would appear that for the eighth year in succession, the title will be three-horse race between ourselves, Roseland, and Calistoga, so I urge you to attend — your support at the matches is very much appreciated by the payers and myself. 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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