Despite missing a handful of starters due to club team commitments, the Fremont Firebirds soccer squad seemed to find a solid rhythm for just the first match of the season. The end result — a 2-1 loss to Santa Teresa — certainly wasn’t the desired outcome, the Firebirds got better and better as the first half wore on.
The initial 40 minutes would end up being scoreless, but the Firebirds found pockets of possession with quality triangle passing in the offensive half of the field. That passing led to a great chance just before half time when a cross into the box from the corner was eventually headed just over the crossbar from six yards out.
“We’re missing a lot of key players, but also it’s the beginning of the season and people are a little rusty,” admitted Fremont Head Coach Demba Diallo. “But as the game went along, they started to get a little more confidence. It was a good way to finish the half.”
“I think since it was our first game playing, we were all just a little bit hesitant,” noted senior captain Michael Wen. “It just takes time. Next game will definitely be better. As the season goes on, I think we will all improve from an efficiency and confidence standpoint.”
“This is a new team, just figuring out how we play and figuring out how other teams play,” remarked fellow senior captain Matthew Escobedo. “We got more confident and getting more shots later on.”
Escobedo would get the Firebirds’ lone goal on a penalty kick late in the game after a handball in the box. A nice hard low shot found the back of the net with ease.
“Coach usually says take your time and be confident, believe in yourself,” added Escobedo on taking the PK. “I decided to be calm and was able to do my job.”
Escobedo’s goal would cut the 2-1 deficit in half, but with less than five minutes remaining, the Firebirds would be unable to come up with an equalizer.
The end result, though, isn’t as important as health. Fremont got a bit of a scare with starting goalkeeper Ivan Munoz injuring his ankle.
“I’m feeling alright,” said Munoz, who had ice wrapped around his ankle. “The outcome could have been better, but it’s the first game, we’re all a bit nervous since it’s the start of the season.”
The Firebirds will be looking to build off a 4-4-4 league record last season in the El Camino division. It will be the second year in a row that the team plays in the lower of the two SCVAL leagues, which will be a welcome change of pace. The season prior saw the Firebirds finish 1-10-1, last place in the De Anza division. Moving up to the higher division was their reward for going 9-1-2 and winning the El Camino league title in 2016.
Fremont will play in a handful of preseason games before league play begins in January. The Firebirds will open up league playing at Wilcox on Jan. 8, 2020.