On May 22, the South Tama boys soccer team traveled to Norwalk to play against the Warriors - another solid soccer program and perennial state qualifier.
It was not the first time this season the Trojans' appearance on the athletic facilities drew a confused looks from the hosts. The members of South Tama team do not look athletic enough in comparison to the members of the most home squads we played this season - too short and too young at its best.
Yet, the Trojans stepped on another turf field this season, to measure themselves against yet another senior-laden squad. The starting push of Warriors seemed to be almost too much when an outstanding far shot from the left wing area, sent by a Norwalk midfielder found the corner of Luis Perez' net.
That was very tough and lucky shot, and our goalkeeper, perhaps, was not ready for it. For the rest of the game Luis Perez played without a slight mistake - with the air of a true MVP, intercepting the high crosses, deflecting the long shots and preventing possible break-aways.
The Trojans defense sorted things out very fast and also played with confidence under significant pressure. Fernando Galvez, Cesar Rivera and Eric Luna definitely earned the respect from the host team with their tough, but spotlessly clean defense. Santiago Villafana, David Bennett and Hunter Holland took their turns guarding the most dangerous midfielder of the Norwalk - Sam Steenhoek, and eventually limited his role in the game to a minimum.
Attacking unit of the Trojans - James Lares, Jose Alcazar, Jerry Lowe, Adrian Castanon and Alex Martinez - managed to equalize the balance of powers in the midfield, and for a two long periods of time (except for early in the second half), the game was going both ways, with South Tama exchanging the attacks with Warriors one by one.
Individual efforts by Jerry Lowe and Adrian Castanon were keeping the things interesting until the very end, but the best chances that Trojans had were created with magnificent passing by Alex Martinez. Twice he managed to send Jerry Lowe one on one with the Norwalk keeper. The first time Jerry had been outpaced by the ball and the second time his shot had been deflected by the goalkeeper. The rebound, that had to be converted into the Trojans goal slipped out of bunds near the left post of the empty net.
I have to mention especially an outstanding performance by James Lares on the left wing. If he will continue to progress the way he did during the course of the season, the now sophomore will turn into a very special player, in the following seasons. His performance against Norwalk is a good example of his style of the game, for he had been not giving any chances to his attacking opponents, and at his turn, was making a wonderful attacking runs.
The game ended up with Norwalk midfielder committed a foul on Alex Martinez with about 20 seconds to go. Immediately the referee granted the offender a yellow card, for another (time delay) tactical foul. All the field players from both teams gathered in the penalty area of the Warriors, trying to win the high ball, sent by Martinez from the free kick. The Norwalk goalkeeper managed to secure this dangerous ball, turning the last page of the South Tama's Boys Soccer season.
Yes, the comeback did not happen, and hence, this game cannot be considered the best game Trojans had played this season. Yet the quality of the soccer produced by the team, was at its height.
The whole season left a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth. The quality of the soccer Trojans showed at the playoffs, the progress the team made, the outstanding performance of several players through-out the season and the overall youth of the team do not let me think about this season as of the failure. The hopeless losses to Cedar Rapids Prairie, Muscatine, Gilbert and Marshalltown shows me where we must be to become a respected program. And the narrow, and perhaps unnecessary losses to Hudson, Gladbrook, Denver (twice) and Benton (all with the same 1 goal difference) - just do not let me be completely satisfied with the season. But it is over and South Tama Trojans look into the next soccer season to improve and have more fun.