The Wilcox Chargers varsity boys soccer team lost to the Saratoga Falcons by a count of 4-1 on Thursday night, but the final score doesn’t even begin to tell the story. Just looking at the boxscore and seeing Saratoga scored twice in each half, one might assume the Falcons were the better team. In actuality, that wasn’t the case. Even before a single goal was scored, the Chargers possessed the ball significantly more often than the Falcons. While Wilcox would carry possession throughout the game, Saratoga’s quick-strike ability—led by senior striker Kevin Yu’s hat trick—got the better of the Chargers defense.
“Our defense needs to anticipate, that’s our problem, we’re not anticipating,” commented junior goalkeeper Jaxson Hillsinger Roby. “We’re not winning balls, it’s frustrating. We practice hard, we have potential, these are good players we have, but they’re not anticipating. We need to be faster and more fit.”
While Roby allowed two breakaway goals early, he also made impressive saves on two other breakaways. If not for Roby, the score could have really gotten out of hand in the first half.
“He always does,” commented Chargers Head Coach Tomas Montes on Roby making numerous Grade-A saves. “No matter what our scores are, he’s always somebody I can count on to play a solid game. He’s pretty consistent back there. I don’t think anybody ever looks at our game and says ‘ah your goalie blew it’ because some of these scores [otherwise] would be outrageous.”
In front of Roby the Chargers are a relatively young team, but have demonstrated the ball skills to make plays up and down the field. Wilcox’s lone goal came on a nicely floated shot over the opposing goalkeeper’s head by senior Josafat Valencia, but they could have easily scored at least one more if not two.
While the Chargers would have liked to have done a better job finishing, the defense was far more concerning than the lack of goals at the offensive end.
“The game plan was to mark [Kevin Yu] man to man because he’s an absolute gazelle,” noted coach Montes. “In addition we had to mark in the midfield and not allow them to make that through ball to him, which, in the first half, we didn’t do, which led to those two goals. As far as possession is concerned and the rest of our defense, I thought we played a really solid half. With the exception of those two through balls, everything else, I thought we were right there with them.”
One of the more notable players that stood out for Wilcox was youngster Matthew Bianchi who came off the bench. The sophomore is noticeably smaller than the rest of his teammates, but he showed good ball skills and spacial awareness.
“He’s a small guy, but you can see he works hard, works as much or even more than the other players we have on this team,” commented Roby on his younger teammate. “I have a lot of respect for him, he’s a good kid, you can see on the field he’s fast, gets the ball in the center, he works for it, he calls for it. We need more players like him.”
“Matthew is a great skill player. I brought him up for him to be able develop the physical part of his game,” added coach Montes on his sophomore. “He’s never gonna be big, so he’s always going to have the issue of having to play bigger than he is. He has the skill set necessary and has a fantastic attitude, really coachable kid. The idea is next year after having played with these guys that are this big this year, that he will be a bit more physical and ready step into that starting role as a junior. Ali [Salehi] is another sophomore at right back, same plan with both of them. They have taken their lumps this year as experience for next year.”
Some of these players won’t be back next year though, including star midfielder Brandon Holguin. Frustration was certainly evident when the senior captain earned a yellow card late in the game. Holguin was around the ball all game long in the midfield and probably had more touches than any other player for either side, but it wasn’t enough to help overcome the mistakes in coverage defensively.
Keeping the team upbeat has been a tough task for coach Montes as Wilcox has now fallen to 0-8 on the season. While some frustration does seem to be building, the Chargers have the talent to win some games in the second half of the season. Most of their games thus far have been close. Six of the eight losses have been by two goals or less, and three of those have been decided by just one goal.