The day after winning its first victory of the season, South Tama's boys soccer team hosted the Gilbert Tigers.
Right from the beginning it was clear that the game would be not easy for the home team. Already shorthanded by the injuries of the starting goalkeeper Luis Perez and a major distributor Alejandro Martinez, the Trojans were placed in even more serious situation after another starter - defensive midfielder Cesar Rivera-Nunez - who is crucial for the team operations, was injured in a game against Independence.
Ben Angel, the only available junior varsity forward and the next in line for the varsity appearance, was not present at the game as well. As a result the co-captain Adrian Castanon had to be moved away from his usual attacking position, and several players that do not have a forward's skills had to be brought into the game, to face a solid and organized Gilbert defense. It was made clear for the players that this game will stay alive until the first goal. If Trojans would let the visitors score - there will be no return.
The team was holding Gilbert attacks and occasionally countered for about 50 minutes, and looked solid enough to be able to upset an opponent. Although the Tigers had been in control of the tempo and a flow of the game, several South Tama players looked far more superior in class than an opponent. Adrian Castanon, Jose Alcazar, Jerry Lowe and perhaps the best performer of the game in Trojans team - James Lares were overplaying their individual opponents once and again, but were not able to upset Gilberts defense.
Castanon was absolutely incredible with his dribbling. Alcazar distributed the ball well, and also added a pair of a long range shots that barely missed the frame. Lowe really kept the Tigers defense under pressure with his running ability and a ball control presented a real threat. Lares, facing much taller and athletically gifted opponents, played with an air of a real team leader, fighting hard for every ball, taking an initiative while with the ball, making minimal amount of mistakes in his ball distribution and also controlling the pace of the game, when it was possible.
At the end, the hard fought game came to a prediction, and perhaps logical end, when a low flying ball got into the Eric Luna's net. Trojans attempt to score back opened the game up and allowed Gilbert to counterattack freely, with Adrian Castanon and Jerry Lowe out of their defensive positions.
The final result of a 4-0 loss was perhaps not representative of the nature of this game, as South Tama had chances to score, and three out of four Gilbert's goals were in a way the matter of a luck. Yet the visitors victory itself was honestly earned. The Tigers looked well organized and at this point just plain too strong for a shorthanded Trojans.
I am finding a certain peace of mind, thinking that South Tama Boys provided enough of a headache for an opponents tonight, and earned some respect as a team that is not easy to compete against.