It was shaping up to be an irritating outing for the Davis High boys soccer team on Wednesday at Yudin Field.
For the day, the Blue Devils beat Napa by a huge margin in shots on goal, and had three other shots sail just inches over the crossbar.
But in the game’s final moments, a ball off the foot of junior Raunak Manandhar found the net and turned DHS’ frustration into jubilation.
After the goal, the Indians kicked off and play continued for a couple of seconds before the refs blew the final whistle on the Devils’ 2-1 victory.
On the winning play, a Davis corner kick from the left side was sent across the field to senior Ajay Klein and then …
“I just saw Ajay getting the ball and I believed in the cross,” Manandhar said. “Then it was right place at the right time, pretty much. It took a little luck and I just put it away.”
The winning tally was the second of Manandhar’s Blue Devil career, the other coming in a JV victory over rival Jesuit two years ago. Wednesday’s goal came on the last of DHS’ 23 shots on the day, compared to just six for the Indians. Fifteen of those were on goal, while Napa put the Devil keepers to work just three times.
Davis’ first goal came off a Manandhar corner kick — the locals took seven of those while holding Napa without a corner — 15 minutes into the game. As the ball came across the front of the goal, senior Alexander Nelson took a header shot that hit the post and bounced right to classmate Brian Birt, who used his head to finish the play.
“Zander did a really good job winning the cross … and I just kinda had to head it in, so I’ll give a lot of the credit to Zander there,” Birt said. “The entire team did a really good job winning all the balls in the air. We showed a lot of heart throughout the game and it paid off on that goal, and on the last goal too.
“(Winning this game) was a big step forward, and I think we are going to have a good season if we keep playing that hard.”
Though the DHS offense was inconsistent at times, there were many opportunities to put this one away. Still up 1-0 near the end of the first period, a Devil flurry in the span of just a minute forced the Indians’ goalie to make two saves. One more shot was sent just over the crossbar.
Similarly, the locals took three more quick attempts in the first two minutes of the second half.
“Our midfielders did well and our targets on the top did well,” Davis coach Alex Park told The Enterprise. “With (junior D.J. Villegas) in the middle … he draws a lot of defenders toward him because he’s so active and he moves around so well. So there’s always a guy open there.
“We are getting opportunities to score, which is half the battle … (but) one of the things we have to get better at as we go through the season is putting balls away. You saw (Wednesday), we should have been up like 4-1, 5-1.”
Instead of that comfortable lead, the Blue Devils actually found themselves tied when Napa’s Christian Basulto scored a goal of the blink-and-you-missed-it variety.
As the second half wore on, DHS peppered the Indians’ goal with shots, eventually breaking through for the winner.
Notes: The Blue Devils improved to 2-0 with the win, while Napa fell to 1-1. … The two teams met in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section tournament with Davis eliminating the Indians, 6-0. … An already busy week of games got even more so when the Devils announced a home game against McClatchy on Monday at 4 p.m. Following games Tuesday (a 3-1 win at Marin Catholic) and Wednesday, DHS now heads to the Bay City Classic for several weekend matchups before taking the field again for Monday’s contest.
— Reach Chris Saur at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8049. To view galleries and purchase prints of Blue Devil sports photos, visit http://davisenterprise.zenfolio.com