Last Wednesday, September 23, the AV Panthers traveled south to Santa Rosa for the first of a number of season-defining matches. this one against five-time defending regular-season champions, Roseland Prep. These games have always been closely fought encounters and are frequently examples of the best in high school football.
On this occasion the condition of the field was in very poor condition indeed and what is usually an entertaining, fast flowing football match with lots of skillful play on offer, was a very scrappy affair. AV started well and it was clear that this year’s Roseland team was not at the very high levels of previous seasons. not surprisingly given that they had lost seven of their 2014 starters to graduation.
The Panthers took a deserved lead in the 15th minute when Chirro Tovar acrobatically hooked the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the Knights” penalty area. A fine goal and more should have followed. However, Rosalind gradually forced themselves back into the contest and began to exert pressure on the AV defense that bent but did not break thanks in no small part to fine efforts by the central defensive partnership of Abraham Sanchez and Ulises Garcia.
At the break AV seemed to have things under control overall and went out for the second half hoping to at least hold on to the lead if not add a second goal. Unfortunately their energy levels were not at the same intensity as those of the hosts and, when coupled with some poor defensive play and individual mistakes, the Knights came back with a vengeance; twenty minutes into the second half and Roseland had scored three times without reply from AV
To their credit, the Panthers kept fighting but they had been given quite a shock and there was little fluidity to their game. Nevertheless, a few chances came along and in the 64th minute when Tovar was hammered unfairly to the ground as he closed in on the Rosaland goal, Fernando Ferreyra calmly put the ball into the corner of the goal from the ensuing penalty kick. 2-3 to Roseland.
The final 15 minutes saw AV unable to create any more clear openings against a very organized, talented, and spirited Roseland team. In fact, a further Panther defensive breakdown led to a fourth goal for the hosts and they closed out a 4-2 win fairly comfortably, a victory that they deserved on the overall play despite the Panthers solid first half.
It was AV’s first loss of the season and a dispirited team headed back to the Valley facing very little time to recover with a home game against St. Vincent’s of Petaluma, another top team, just two days later. However, before an ongoing unsatisfactory situation regarding the virtually unplayable high school field (as a result of a broken lawn mower) possibly threatened the game from taking place, St. Vincent announced late on Thursday evening that they would be unable to field a team due to a number of their student athletes being academically ineligible. Under league rules, AV got a win by forfeit.
So, the team’s next match will be played this evening, Wednesday, September 30. It is the annual Alumni match against former high school players and will take place at the high school field with a 5pm kick-off. It should be quite a game.
Of course, your support at the matches is much appreciated and vociferous home crowd support is probably worth a goal a game! We have a hugely important match with regular season and play-off implications on Friday, October 2 against Calistoga here at our home field. Hope to see you there. Come on you Panthers!