‘Stangs lose composure, game to rival Acorns
The Gilroy and Live Oak boys’ soccer teams are not only rivals, but also the two best programs in the Tri-County Athletic League.
So when the pair met Tuesday night at Mustang Stadium, Acorns’ coach Tony Goble didn’t attempt to downplay the importance of the match.
“This is one of those games where you lose sleep beforehand,” he said. “And just hope you don’t lose any afterward.”
In all likelihood, Goble got a good night’s sleep after the latest Mustang-Acorn battle.
Live Oak remained undefeated with a 2-0 shutout of Gilroy, a team that dominated the first 15 minutes of the game before slowly unraveling.
“We didn’t do a single thing we talked about in pregame,” GHS co-head coach Brian Hall said. “But give Live Oak credit. They did a great job of stopping us and letting us get any kind of rhythm.
“They are the better team right now.”
Early on, the Mustangs were the better team. But by the end of the first half, both teams were getting some decent opportunities.
Then, with less than two minutes remaining, the Acorns converted on the easiest chance of them all.
Gilroy defender Artemio Arteaga was whistled for a swinging elbow in the box and Live Oak’s Anthony Avalos was able to notch the game’s first goal on a penalty kick.
“If I was an official, I wouldn’t have given him the PK,” Goble said. “But it was just one of those calls that could go either way.”
After it went Live Oak’s way, it seemed Gilroy was never quite the same. They not only bickered with the refs, but also among themselves.
“We hadn’t been down all year except one time,” GHS co-captain Alfonso Motagalvan said. “We didn’t react right.”
That didn’t go unnoticed over on the Acorn sideline.
“That’s what won us the game,” Live Oak defender Nick Mott said. “We kept our composure until the very end.”
And that was the plan, Gobles said.
“The difference was discipline. This is an emotional rivalry and both are good teams. So I told them, ‘Mentally, keep your heads in the game and we’ll do OK.'”
In the second half, the game was fairly evenly matched in terms of ball control. And while Live Oak (10-0-4/3-0) attempted more shots, GHS goalie Bryan Velasquez came up big with a few excellent saves.
In fact, a Mustang mistake in the field was what ended up handing the Acorns the goal that all but clinched the match with around 17 minutes to go.
On a restart, Live Oak’s much-acclaimed Garrett Frechette, among the area leaders with 14 goals scored, lobbed a pass to a wide-open Mott, whose header hit the left post and bounced in.
Nobody on Gilroy (8-2-1/1-1) marked Mott and he easily slipped in the back unnoticed.
“Live Oak is a very good team,” Motagalvan said. “But they scored two goals because of our errors.”
The absence of leading scorer Everardo Diaz De Leon didn’t exactly aid Gilroy’s cause, either.
The senior forward received a red card in Friday’s win at North Salinas, and by rules, was not allowed to play against the Acorns.
“It was pretty evident we had no attack,” Motagalvan said. “We definitely needed Evie. He’s our attack.”
But that was only one of many reasons the Mustangs didn’t come out on top, Hall said.
“It definitely impacted us,” the coach said of Diaz De Leon’s absence. “But would it have been a different result with him in there? I doubt it. We couldn’t get it to the forwards anyway.”
Up next for the ‘Stangs is a home game agaist one-win Salinas on Thursday, followed by the season’s first meeting with Hollister next Monday.
Gilroy has to wait until Feb. 3 for another shot at Live Oak.
“We’ll see what character they’re made of,” Hall said. “It’s not all lost. Hopefully this is just a wake-up call.”