When the first half of the Davis High boys soccer game against Grant ended on Thursday, the Blue Devil offense had yet to score a goal.
But even though the Pacers had managed two goals, DHS trailed by just one, thanks to the high winds and a little bit of luck.
The smaller deficit came into play when the Devils scored twice in the second half and held on for a 3-3 tie, instead of a one-goal loss that might have hurt them more in the Delta Valley Conference standings.
Davis (7-3-3, 1-1 DVC) got its first-half tally when one of the Grant defensive players was attempting to clear the ball just as the wind, already howling, kicked up a notch. As his kick lofted into the air, it was intercepted by the wind and carried backward. As everyone on both sides of the field stood and marveled, the ball bounced and landed in the goal, past a very surprised Pacers goalie.
“The wind had a huge impact,” said Blue Devil coach Alex Park.
The locals’ 1-0 lead off the own goal blew away quickly when Grant’s Juan Angel Perez beat DHS for the first two purposeful goals of the game.
“We made some defensive mistakes that cost two goals,” Park said. “We were getting killed down the middle.”
With the Pacers up 2-1, however, the game settled down, with both teams struggling to muster up an offensive attack in the face of the wind. Neither squad could make long passes for the rest of the first half, as any ball that ventured to a height of 10 feet or more was immediately sucked up by the wind.
But after intermission, it appeared that the two teams had the wind figured out. Grant struck first, using a gust to its advantage on a floating deep ball.
The Devils’ answer came soon when Raunak Manandhar knocked in a free kick to bring the locals to within one at 3-2. Later, Davis senior Brian Birt weaved his way down the sideline and put the ball past the goalie for the tying score.
“I thought we had a much better second half,” Park said. “We came back from a two-goal deficit and tied it up, which I thought was pretty impressive. I actually thought we were going to win that game in the end.”
The Blue Devils did come close to pulling off the comeback victory, as they had no shortage of opportunities late in the game. But, when a DHS header narrowly missed going in on the final possession of the match, the result was sealed.
After allowing the two first-half goals, the Devil defense — which was once again led by senior Rami Rashmawi — played well the rest of the way, keeping the Pacers out of scoring range.
Meanwhile, Birt and juniors Joe Rainer and D.J. Villegas paced the local offense, keeping things exciting with several good scoring opportunities. But, in the face of tempest-like winds, there wasn’t much more those players could do.
Next up for the DHS is a road match at struggling Laguna Creek on Tuesday. Despite the Cardinals’ 1-6 record entering Thursday, Park said the Blue Devils can’t overlook anyone at this point.
“It should be a good matchup,” Park said. “We should be OK, but soccer is about consistency, and we haven’t been very consistent. Hopefully by sections we will be.”
— Reach Spencer Ault at firstname.lastname@example.org