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Panther Soccer 2015

(This report generally refers to football, although to some readers the sport in question is soccer, or perhaps futbol. The 2015 AV High School boys team continues the tradition of excellence, particularly in the last five seasons when four post-season titles were won.)

The 2015 season opened last Tuesday afternoon on just the second day of school. The opponents were the Knights from Kelseyville who made the journey from smoky Lake County and arrived with a much changed team from last season. Clearly some elder students had transferred in and it turned out that they were good players too!

However, AV dominated the early stages and should have been at least one goal ahead when, in the 8th minute, junior Isidro “Chirro” Tovar, last season’s top goalscorer with 32 goals, broke forward from the half-way line and outpaced the retreating defenders before calmly driving the ball into the far right corner of the goal with his left foot from 15 years out. A fine goal and hopefully one of many for the ever-improving striker.

The Panthers seemed to relax with that lead somewhat and the Knights gradually come back into the game. Although they failed to create any clear chances they forced AV into a number of errors and the home side was unsettled by the physically strong visitors. In the 22nd minute, the Panthers failed to consistently clear the ball downfield and the ball eventually fell to the Kelseyville captain who shot on goal from 25 yards out. Unfortunately for AV, ’keeper Mason McLain was a little out of position and this was enough for the ball to fly by him into the the goal. It was 1-1. AV had their hands full but they responded well and should have regained the lead on a couple of occasions yet disappointing finishing by the junior strikers Chirro and David Eligio meant that the score remained level at the half.

The Panthers maintained their momentum early in the second half with the hard-working midfielders and forwards having plenty of possession leading to more half-chances, but the score stayed tied. Then, in the 63rd minute, with Kelseyville slowly coming back into the game, the Knights were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Panther box. The Panther defense failed to organize an effective wall and from the ensuing kick the ball crashed against the Panther crossbar and, according to the referee, down and over the goal-line. It was 2-1 to Kelseyville and AV faced a very unwelcome early-season surprise.

The goal seemed to lift the visitors while the Panthers were a little deflated but the sides continued to share possession equally in the final quarter of the match. AV dug deep, even if some of the play lacked cohesion, understandably given the first match. Then, with just eight minutes to go, the Panthers hard work and effort was rewarded when senior co-captain Fernando Ferreyra sent in a finely placed free-kick from the right wing towards the Kelseyville front post where it was met perfectly by Gerardo ‘Harry’ Torales who headed it powerfully into the goal. The crowd roared their approval. It was 2-2 with not much time to go.

The Panthers continued to struggle in maintaining possession and Kelseyville nearly regained the lead when a Knight forward broke away beyond the Panther defense and seemed likely to score only to be denied by a fine and important save by McLain in the Panther goal. Minutes later the final whistle blew and an entertaining game of high school football had come to an end. 2-2 was a fair score. AV had more clearcut chances and probably should have won, but they could have also lost against a Kelseyville team that will undoubtedly have a fine season this year and cause problems for many teams.

The next afternoon saw Clearlake High arrive in the Valley with just 11 players. No substitutes on a very warm afternoon. Not only that but they were inexperienced and young. As a result, AV completely dominated going six goals up in just 25 minutes. The Panther starters went to on bench and, apart from McLain in goal, the Panthers reserves took over impressively with four more goals for a final 10-0 score; goals from “Chirro” Tovar (2), Jorge “Papa” Medina (2), two each for freshmen Christian “Cremas” Guerra and Johnny Magana. their first for the high school, and one each for “Harry” Torales and David Eligio. Not particularly keenly contested, but a good workout for the Panther bench.

Next up, the team makes one of the longer away trip of the regular season when they play at Middletown later today (Wednesday, September 2) in a third non-league match, returning home for the first league game of the season this coming Friday, September 4, at 4.30pm against Geyserville at Tom Smith Field alongside the high school. Then another home league game against Tomales on Wednesday, September 9. As always your support at the matches is much appreciated. We play exciting football and, as I’ve often said, vociferous home crowd support is probably worth a goal a game! Hope to see you there – Come on you Panthers!

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