Playing the final regular-season home game of their careers, the seniors on the Davis High boys soccer team went out with a bang, topping Monterey Trail, 5-0, on Thursday at Yudin Field.
As the Blue Devils improved to 14-4-3 overall, and 8-0-1 in Delta Valley Conference play, two of the five DHS goals came off the feet of 12th-graders celebrating their Senior Day.
“The seniors knew it was Senior Day and they had a good day,” said Devil coach Alex Park. “All the seniors had a great game.”
Six of the eight Davis seniors started the game and goalkeeper Jesus Gutierrez spelled fellow 12th-grader Andres Olmedo at the start of the second half. Alexander Nelson didn’t play because of illness.
Those three plus Ajay Klein, Alex Perez, Brian Birt, Ken Hashimoto, Paul Hinton and Rami Rashmawi were honored at halftime, and presented with a photo collage containing pictures from their soccer careers.
With good vibes in the air, the Blue Devils got it going early as junior Raunak Manandhar sent a good pass to Hashimoto, who put it away in the fourth minute.
“Ken was a big factor, he put a ball in earlier,” Park said. “It made a huge difference. I thought (his goal) was really important.”
Defense was the theme for the rest of the half, as both teams failed to score in the 36 minutes following the goal.
DHS kept up its strong defense after intermission — the Devils haven’t allowed a goal in their eight DVC victories — but the local offense found its groove.
Manandhar had another assist, as his cross to junior Joe Rainer was quickly redirected into the net, via Rainer’s head. Manandhar then got a goal of his own, which came off of a very long and extremely accurate pass from Rashmawi.
Hinton made it 4-0, capitalizing on a Monterey Trail mistake and floating the ball right over the goalkeeper in the 36th minute. The goal was a special one as it was the first of Hinton’s senior season after he missed most of the year due to injury.
Junior Pablo Guarnizo rounded out the scoring with a self-made goal, utilizing a litany of moves to evade the defense then finding the net with a well-placed shot.
Davis’ defense was stifling for the duration of the game, rarely allowing Monterey Trail to even get into scoring position. Goalies Olmedo and Gutierrez had to deal with only a couple of shots, even fewer of which were real scoring threats.
“The defense (played well) again,” Park said. “I believe that offense wins games and defense wins championships, and I think that not having anyone score on (us) was huge. Great job by the keepers and the back line.”
If Park’s formula is correct, the Blue Devils are looking good with just one game left (Thursday at Elk Grove) before the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament. DHS has just one thing it needs to accomplish — get healthy.
“Losing D.J. Villegas (has been bad) but we’re hoping to get him back next week,” Park said. “We have a bunch of other players — Alex McIntyre, Jesse Hopp — (who are injured) … what we’re looking for right now is just to get healthy.”
— Reach Spencer Ault at firstname.lastname@example.org