With temperatures touching triple digits and the Davis High boys playing their seventh soccer game in as many days, a sluggish start on Monday was understandable.
And though an early deficit led to a 3-3 tie against McClatchy, the Blue Devils know that what may hurt today will only help their endurance in more important matches later this season. Unfortunately for DHS, it’s a lesson they will learn two more times — the Devils have matches Tuesday and Wednesday — before mercifully getting a break in the schedule.
“We probably shouldn’t have played this game (Monday),” Davis coach Alex Park said of the match that was added to the schedule last week. “But I learned from that and I probably wouldn’t do it again. We have a grueling game (against Capital Christian Tuesday) then we have Granite Bay, which will be another grueling match. After that I’ll definitely give them a long break.”
Making matters worse, the locals were playing without Alex McIntyre, Pablo Guarnizo and standout Alexander Nelson, who is out for three weeks after getting eight staples in his head following a collision on Saturday.
However, Park said there were a few positives that are coming out of this tough stretch of matches.
“We learn from this and we grow from it. We are not trying to win the preseason, we are trying to win the league and the section finals,” said the second-year mentor, who added that the fatigue allowed him to insert subs and give them a chance to shine.
Park singled out Kyle Fix for doing an excellent job of filling in for Nelson, and Jovanni Morales, whose extended playing time included a block in front of an open DHS goal to preserve the tie.
In the first half, however, it was the play of the Lions that was worthy of praise.
Twice before the break, McClatchy’s Angel Carrera took advantage of opportunities provided by Blue Devil defensive errors to score goals.
Between those two tallies, Davis junior Raunak Manandhar found the net for the first of his two goals. On the play, his Devil classmate Joe Rainer dribbled through four Lions and drew the attention of Lions goalie Alonso Avalos before dishing to Manandhar, who scored easily.
But the two Carrera net-finders, a goal from Ivan Plazibat and a pair of impressive saves by Avalos had McClatchy sitting pretty up 3-1 at intermission.
After the break, the locals gathered the strength they had left and made a push. Just six minutes into the second half, a booming free kick from DHS goalie Jesus Gutierrez found its way to Manandhar in the middle of a crowd in front of the Lions goal. Manandhar’s long shot cut the lead to 3-2.
The two teams then traded tantalizing chances as a McClatchy shot hit the crossbar and Blue Devil senior Rami Rashwami beat a defender and took a shot that was deflected by the goalie. The ball bounced softly off the inside of the far post and settled just outside the goal before getting cleared.
But just a few moments later, at about 61 minutes into the match, it was Davis’ turn to take advantage of a defensive mistake. McClatchy keeper Aaron Davis, who entered at the half, misconnected on a clear and Devil midfielder D.J. Villegas got to the ball quickly. Seeing the talented junior in a dangerous position, Davis fouled Villegas in the box and gave DHS a penalty kick.
Villegas made the PK to tie the game.
“The boys learned from this that we can come back from a deficit, we can dig deep … so with that I am pleased,” Park said. “I’m proud of all of the boys.”
Both squads had chances for the game-winner over the next 19 minutes — DHS saw Morales and Alex Perez get in front of open nets to block shots and Gutierrez had a couple of key saves — but the contest would end without a victor.
— Reach Chris Saur at [email protected] or 530-747-8049.