Last Wednesday, the team played the second of four potentially crucial games against one of the two perennial rivals for the league title. The team traveled to Calistoga on this occasion (Roseland Prep being the other top team), and based on the first half performance it seemed that the long journey had some sort of severe adverse effect on the players. It was the poorest half of the season and after a period in which players failed to mark their opponent, could not maintain any sort of consistent possession, and played with little desire and commitment the Panthers were 0-2 down at the half.
Following impassioned and angry observations by the coaches at the break, the team came out a different side in the second half. Several chances came and went as the Wildcats held on to their lead. However in the 61st minute the defensive rearguard was broken and AV pulled a goal back thanks to a superb 25 yard shot into the top corner of the goal by Christian Guerrero.
Moments later Chirro Tovar broke into the opposing penalty box and was clearly brought crashing to the ground by a clumsy and late tackle by the Wildcat defender. Shockingly the referee decided to not award a penalty. He later admitted that perhaps he should have done so. In my opinion he definitely should have done so, but mistakes are made and its part of the game.
The Panthers continued to apply themselves, play some good football, and pushed forward continually. Unfortunately this left some gaps at the back and Calistoga capitalized to open up their 2-goal lead once again. In the dying moments of the match, another counter attack saw the hosts get a further goal to run out 4-1 winners. a deserved win overall given the first half, but a flattering scoreline all the same. I expect a different one when the two teams meet next month in the Valley.
It was County Fair time last weekend and the Apple Cup match on Friday against Geyserville was called off on the day of the game by the visitors. Initially they said they had transport difficulties but this later changed to the coach being unavailable. Either way it was a very disappointed Panther team that did not get to play in this big weekend. I hope they enjoyed themselves on the rides at the Carnival and eating all those curly fires and corn dogs.
After going to press on Monday, the team begins a run of three away games in a five day period. On Monday afternoon they traveled along Highway 128 to Cloverdale before making a couple of two-hour trips to Tomales today and Laytonville on Friday, September 23rd. Following those long journeys, the team will have a run of home matches. See accompanying schedule below. Hope to see you there.
Record-to-Date: League (W/L/D) 1-2-0; Overall (W/L/D) 5-3-0.