The team faced its toughest test yet when they hosted Rincon Valley Christian last Wednesday at Tom Smith Field. The Christians had won all six of their games to date this season and their coach expressed high hopes for the remainder of the year and on into the play-offs. On top of this, the Panthers had three starters out, two through injury and one for disciplinary reasons.
Despite that, the team came out strong and played some delightful football before deservedly taking the lead in the 17th minute when top scorer Chirro Tovar delivered a thunderbolt of a drive from fully 25 yards out that swerved through the air and flew into the top corner of the net. Tovar grabbed his second just five minutes later from almost as far out although this time it was from an attempted cross from the right wing that found the back of the net! Tovar completed his hat-trick before the end of the half when, after some good work by Fernando Ferreyra, he followed his own shot that rebounded from the ‘keeper to hammer the ball home in off the post from 12 yards out.
The Christians came out strong in the second half but with central defenders Efrain Gonzales and Abraham Sanchez at the top of their game there was little direct threat on the Panther goal. In the 58th minute, Moises Segura blasted a low hard shot that the Christian ‘keeper could not hold and David Eligio was the first to react to the rebound, calmly placing the ball into the corner of the goal past the exposed goalie. The scoring was completed by Chirro when he grabbed his fourth, and the team’s fifth, following some excellent work on the right wing by Gerardo Torales. The match finished 5-0 and was undoubtedly the best overall performance of the season so far.
Last Friday one of the weaker teams in the league, certainly now that Mendocino High has folded its boys soccer program, arrived in Boonville to face the Panthers. This was Tech HS from Petaluma who made the two-plus hour journey only to be on the receiving end of a solid beating. Despite AV’s starting line-up playing limited time, and four of them not playing at all — three due to injury and in one to suspension, the goals flowed and rarely has the gulf between those towards the top and bottom of the standings been so obvious. With a very irregular line-up AV did not play well and yet still ran out 8-0 winners due in part to their own lack of intensity but also to the visitors who played their hearts out and could not be faulted in terms of effort as they kept battling to the end, not an easy accomplishment given the circumstances. The goals came from Chirro Tovar with another hat-trick, his third of the season, Gerardo Torales, David Eligio, Carlos Garibay, Moises Segura, and Jorge ‘Papa’ Medina grabbing his first for the high school.
Up next will be a match that couldn’t be more of a contrast to the Tech game. AV faces Roseland Prep today, Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 4.30pm, as they begin a run of three matches in succession against the other top teams in the league. Roseland have been the winners of the regular season title for the last four years and are currently at the top tied with AV going into this match. They are generally regarded as the best team once again, although the Panthers will be out to prove this incorrect.
Whatever the result, it should be an excellent display of high school football/soccer. The following two matches see road games at St. Vincent’s and Calistoga, two teams just below AV in the current standings. 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!