So the 2014 high school boys soccer season ended in “ultimate victory” for Anderson Valley: The post season Championship. However, as followers of the team will be well aware, it was a roller-coaster ride and a number of hurdles had to be cleared before our victory in the title game came a couple of weeks ago on the final day of the postseason.
The team started exceptionally well with a 10-game winning streak over the first half of the season. This run included wins at a good Kelseyville team and an excellent performance against last year’s regular season Champions, Roseland Prep that saw the Panthers get a 1-0 win. The run came to an end in very disappointing circumstances at St Vincent’s where we lost 2-1 after leading 1-0 with just five minutes to play.
Following that loss, the team responded very well with a fine win at perennial rivals Calistoga before suffering a crucial loss to Tomales in a game the Panthers should have won easily. The team rebounded very well again however and finished strongly with a draw at Roseland, a second victory versus Calistoga, and a revenge win against St Vincent’s. However, due to that inexplicable loss to Tomales, the team, despite having a very good record against all the top teams and finishing with a 17-2-1 regular season record, ended up finishing just one point behind Roseland and being runners-up in the regular season to the Knights for the third year in succession.
Next up was the postseason in which we were made the #1 seed. We took advantage of the home field advantage that comes with that and were worthy winners: in the quarterfinals, a solid 3-0 win against Fremont Christian; and then a 3-2 semifinal victory over a stubborn Tomales team, avenging our earlier disappointing loss to them. So it was on to a third successive postseason Championship game against a Making Waves team from the Bay Area that had accumulated a 21-1 record. In a very hard fought and exciting match that was played with a high level of skill and determination, with the enthusiasm of fans of both teams certainly adding to the occasion, the Panthers deservedly came out 2-1 winners to finish with a 20-2-1 overall record and claim the program’s third successive postseason Championship!
In a tribute to our excellent season, we have had four players selected to the All-League First Team, the first occasion on which the program has achieved such numbers on this prestigious team featuring the best players from the entire league. Those players are senior Moises Segura, juniors Abraham Sanchez and Fernando Ferreyra, and sophomore Ysidro “Chirro” Tovar. Apart from Moises, other seniors who will be missed both on and off the pitch next season are the other co-captains, Efrain Gonzales and Gualberto Gastelum, plus Romario Espinoza and goalkeeper Elvis Gaxiola who deserves special mention for stepping into that roll having never played a soccer game in his life until just three weeks before this season!
The rest of this season’s successful squad played an important role too, even if in some of these cases they did not play in many of the games but they were at practice every day and greatly improved their own games as well as helping the starters and first guys off the bench to raise theirs. The Junior class included — along with All-League selections Abraham Sanchez and Fernando Ferreyra, two players who will be seen as key players next season as seniors — Izac Parra and Marco Alarcon. Plus the strong Sophomore class featuring All-League selection Ysidro Tovar plus regular starters Gerardo Torales, Christian Guerrero, and David Eligio, plus Dario Gonzales, Nati Alvarez, and Carlos Garibay. The freshmen class to be seriously considered for important roles next season includes: Jorge Mejia, who started a number of matches this year, Jorge Medina, Ullises Garcia who contributed significantly later in the season, and Victor Martinez.
Every season I give out four Coach’s Awards to individuals who represent a range of qualities that are important for the high school student athlete, both on and off the pitch; some of these qualities will hopefully be of even greater use in the real world when they move on from high school. These include diligence and effort on the playing field and in the classroom, dealing with adversity, taking responsibility for one's actions, showing respect for one's peers and leaders, and a desire and ability to work with others towards a common goal as a teammate. The recipients of these awards for the 2014 season are: Izac Parra, Ysidro Tovar, Gerardo Torales, and Nati Alvarez.
Just before I turn to my concluding remarks, I would like to congratulate coach Danny Kuny and his footballers on their excellent season that would suggest a very healthy future for that program; Keevan Labowitz and the soccer girls whose spirit and effort through a challenging season is to be greatly admired; and of course Allyssa and Kendra, who stepped into the huge shoes left by Flick MacDonald and have done a wonderful job with the outstanding girls Volleyball program.
Finally, on behalf of the team, I would like to thank the students, families, friends, and those in the community for their much appreciated support at our matches; Mr. Pinoli for his continuing efforts as Athletic Director; my assistant coach Eddie Ferreyra whose input this season played a major part in our success, and the volunteer drivers: Nikola Milojevich and four alumni of the school and its soccer program, without whom we would have difficulty in getting to some of our matches: Sergio Gutierrez, Rodel Perez, Rodolfo Ibarra, and Domingo Ferreyra.
And last but not least, high school principal Ms. Michelle Hutchins for her unwavering support; secretaries Rebecca and Veronica, who had to deal with my questions and requests; the guys preparing the school vans for our many long road trips; and my Mum and Dad, 6,000 miles away in England, who in our weekly phone conversations, never fail to ask me how the Panthers have done. They have all done very well indeed with the season culminating in the program’s third Championship in four years. Let’s do it again in 2015!
2014 Season Record (won/lost/drawn):
League 13/2/1. Overall 20/2/1
Goals scored: 100. Goals conceded: 16.
Leading scorers: Chirro Tovar 32; Gerardo Torales 21, David Eligio 12, Moises Segura 10, Fernando Ferreyra 7 goals (plus the leader in assists with 24.)