The 2013 AV High School Boys’ soccer season began last week with two matches, both played here in Boonville alongside the high school at Tom Smith Field.
The opener was a league match-up against Rincon Valley Christian, a team with whom the Panthers split the two games last year and who have traditionally given AV a tough match. This was not the case this year as the home team dominated the game from beginning to end in front of an enthusiastic home crowd of over 50 fans from the school along with other Valley soccer fans.
In just the sixth minute, senior forward Jose Gaxiola split-open the Christians’ defense with a lovely chip pass that left Erik Martinez with a one-on-one against the goalkeeper and the midfielder made no mistake. A second goal followed shortly thereafter when a combination of passes between Moises Segura and Martinez produced a fine pass to Gaxiola, who swiveled past his marker before shooting low and hard into the corner of the goal from 20 yards out. 2-0 to AV.
The game was played almost entirely in the Rincon Valley half and two more goals were added before the half-time whistle. Gaxiola grabbed his second after receiving a pass from his freshman strike partner, Isidro ‘Chirro’ Tovar, and the other freshman outfield starter, Christian Guerrero, getting his first high school goal with a clever chip over the onrushing goalkeeper after he had been served a perfect pass by Erik Martinez. 4-0 to the Panthers at the break.
The second half was more of the same with the Panthers’ freshman goalkeeper, Gerardo Torrales, a virtual spectator throughout. With the tireless midfielder Omar Solano winning tackles all over the pitch and solid contributions from three or four bench players, it was a matter of how many would the Panthers score and it was no surprise when Chirro Tovar scored his first high school goal after yet another assist by Martinez and ten minutes later he then added a second, and the team’s sixth, after a clever dribble past two defenders following a pass from Romario Espinoza. It finished 6-0 and, not for the first time in history, it might be said that the Christians had been “fed” to the Lions (Panthers).
The week’s second match was played last Friday against visitors Kelseyville and once again the Panthers got off to a great start. In just the 2nd minute Joe Gaxiola seized upon an errant pass by a defender and slipped the ball past the exposed Knights’ ‘keeper. Kelseyville are quite a strong team but maybe the journey on the winding roads from Lake County had affected them because in the fifth minute the Panthers doubled their lead when Fernando Ferreyra blasted a 22-yard free-kick into the corner of the net following a trip on Erik Martinez. 2-0 to AV.
The Panthers continued to control the match and although the Knights occasionally threatened on the counter-attack they had little luck in getting anything out of the very solid AV back line of Gualberto Gastelum, Efrain Gonzales, Abraham Sanchez, and Danny Espinoza, ably backed up by ‘keeper Torrales on the couple of occasions when the ball arrived in his vicinity.
A third goal was added in the 29th minute when Chirro Tovar was clattered to the ground inside the penalty box and the obvious penalty-kick was awarded. The young Tovar got up to place the ball into the corner of the goal from the spot with a calmness that belied his years.
Unfortunately, for the remaining ten minutes of the half, and for almost the entire second half, the Panthers lapsed into a sort of torpor and the game became very dull and uninspiring, although AV continued to dominate in terms of possession. This often happens when a team is so comfortably ahead, although the players certainly were trying, just not with any cohesion or style. However, a fourth goal was added in the final minute when Ferreyra once again blasted a free-kick into the goal for his second of the match. It finished 4-0 to AV. But the second-half performance was poor, it must be said, and the players were very aware of this afterwards without the coaches needing to point it out. This reaction and their obvious determination to do better was promising and I am sure it will not happen very often, certainly not in the games against the stronger teams.
Next up is another match at home, today (Wednesday, Sept 4) at 4.30pm against Sonoma Academy in an important league game. Following this, the team travels to Potter Valley on Friday afternoon for the first road match of the season against a new team in the league. Then, on Monday Sept 9, AV is at home to play against Cloverdale at 4.30pm for “The Highway 128 Trophy” — a non-league match, but one that will count in the team’s record that decides postseason seedings. As always your support at our matches is much appreciated by the lads and certainly spurs them on. We play exciting football and, as I’ve often said, a good home crowd is probably worth a goal a game! Hope to see you there. Come on, you Panthers! ¥¥