Coming off an impressive second-place finish at the Watsonville Tournament to open the new season, girls soccer coach Ben Alvarez expected to see the same play in the team’s home opener Friday.
But Ann Sobrato had other plans.
Sobrato and San Benito played to a 2-2 tie Friday, as the Balers could not stop the Bulldogs long half-field shots. Twice in the game, the visitors scored from midfield. Despite the tie, San Benito dominated the course of play as the ball remained in the Balers’ offensive end or at midfield.
With the aggressive play, the Balers struck first in the game’s eighth minute.
On a long stretch pass from Kelly Gottron, Victoria Perez scooted the ball past the goalie. The play happened after forward Chace Miguel stretched out the defense to give the passing lane to Gottron.
The Balers held the lead for almost the entire half, until Sobrato finally got an offensive push in the 36th minute. Just in front of the midfield marker, Sobrato scored on a long kick to even the score.
The Balers had opportunities to slow down the Bulldogs but could not control the ball, Alvarez said.
“Overall, the performance was not very well,” Alvarez said. “At the tournament in Watsonville we actually played very, very well. We were touching the ball, and the passes were connecting. (Friday) is not what I was expecting.”
The Balers’ struggles with the first touch continued into the second half.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Sobrato scored again after a Baler foul at midfield. On the set piece, the Sobrato keeper scored from past mid-field.
“That was a fluke goal,” Alvarez stated of the second goal. “And that is uncommon because she is usually a very good goalie. She misjudged the kick. It happens.”
But the Balers responded well to the score.
Adding to the offensive push, Alvarez switched the Balers formations by adding a third forward. The additional forward granted the Balers to gather a bigger offensive threat.
“I told the children we will see where we go once I saw what they were doing,” he said. “We needed to become more offensive so that is when I went with three forwards – and that actually kind of worked.”
He continued, “It created more opportunities.”
The Balers eventually cashed in those opportunities with a goal in the 57th minute. After a Sobrato foul, the Balers were rewarded with a set piece just outside the goalie’s box. Brianna Bengivengo took advantage by sneaking the ball past a diving Sobrato goalie.
“We work on those a lot,” Alvarez said. “We practice on those set plays. We’ve been successful in the past years because we practice and practice it. Everyone knows exactly what to do on those. We have a very good chance of scoring.”
He continued, “I have some children that are very good at placing the ball where it needs to be placed.”
In the final 23 minutes of the game, the Balers continued to put pressure on the Sobrato keeper, but could never score.
Alvarez said. the tie, even though disappointing, showed the character of the team.
“(Sobrato) played well and we always have tough matches,” he said. “Today, I felt we were the better team. I felt we had better speed and our discipline was better.”
And that team speed is what Alvarez hopes the team continues to utilize, he said.
“One of my huge things this year, is that I have a lot of speed,” Alvarez said. “Last year, I had a lot of strength in my center. A lot of experience. This year, I have a lot of freshmen children and they are very, very fast. I’m going to utilize that capability in a different way.”
To do that, Alvarez will place his speedy players in positions that could take advance of other teams’ weaknesses, he said. He’ll use the team’s depth and flexibility to maximize its speed.
“I’ll put the fastest player on the side of a team’s weakness and attack, attack and attack,” he said.
And of course, at the end of the season, Alvarez hopes to see a Tri-County Athletic League championship and berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“That would be nice,” he said. “We are going to work on that. I anticipate them to do well through the year.”
The Balers travel to Santa Teresa on Wednesday for a 3:15 p.m. game.
Connor RameyConnor Ramey is sports editor of the Free Lance and Pinnacle. You can reach him by email or at (831) 637-5566.
- Athletes should savor college play
- Asian football plenty to offer MLS
- Red Bulls waive Hot, Kassel
- Kichler leads Nipomo by Lompoc, Titans keep LPL title hopes alive
- EPL gets 1st US live network telecast
- Manchester City Follows Rival United Out of Europa League Soccer
- Competitive nature fuels Irish soccer star
- Former NFL Europe and AEG exec named commissioner
- Live chat: FOX Soccer GM David Nathanson
- Betting ring in Malaysia raked in $1B
Submited by chuck - Comment RSS 2.0 - leave a comment - trackback