With 12 minutes remaining in regulation, a goal by San Benito’s
Francisco Palomino cut Gilroy’s deficit in half, and made the final
minutes of the game, as well as an extended extra-time period, into
a back-and-forth frenzy between the two rivals. But the host
Mustangs never let the Balers cease much of the momentum, and
eventually held on to a 2-1 Tri-County Athletic League victory.
Both the Gilroy Mustangs and the San Benito Haybalers played their usual roles on the pitch Thursday evening at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex.
The Mustangs scored early, and the Balers were forced to play catch-up late.
But with 12 minutes remaining in regulation, a goal by San Benito’s Francisco Palomino cut Gilroy’s deficit in half, and made the final minutes of the game, as well as an extended extra-time period, into a back-and-forth frenzy between the two rivals.
High-percentage shots on net by the Mustangs were countered with long passes by the Balers, who were looking to set up a breakaway attempt as the clock ticked toward triple-zeros.
The host Mustangs never let the Balers cease much of the momentum, however, and although San Benito was awarded a free kick from 34 yards out in the final minute, it was Gilroy that eventually held on to a 2-1 Tri-County Athletic League victory.
Gilroy remains undefeated at 3-0 in league play as a result.
“That’s been kind of our motto so far this season,” Gilroy head coach Armando Padilla said of the fast-start, not-so-fast finish. “We’ve been able to score early … We get a good jump, but we start to get a little comfortable with that lead and we allow teams to be a little more into the game, and that’s what we did today.”
In two games last week to Alisal and Palma, the Mustangs jumped on the Trojans with two goals in the first 10 minutes, and also deposited a goal against the Chieftains in the first seven minutes.
On Thursday against San Benito, the Mustangs pocketed the go-ahead goal in the 11th minute, and eventually led 2-0 before the game got very interesting in the waning moments.
“Most of our games have been like that, to be honest,” San Benito head coach Tony Deras said. “It’s like we’re always paddling from the back … We’re always starting against the result.
“It seems like every game we play they score first on us, and that is something we have to fix.”
Although not far behind, the Balers appeared to have difficulty keeping up with Gilroy’s ball-possession game early on, and it resulted in the Mustangs’ ability to keep the ball in San Benito territory for the first 10 minutes of the game.
In the 11th minute, Gilroy’s fast start finally showed on the scoreboard. Miguel Orozco’s pass from roughly 40 yards out sailed into a congested box at the top of the 18, and Jorge Sanchez, without much of a chance to put a shot on net, simply managed to push it out toward the right side of the box.
That is where an unmarked Kristian Urias corralled the loose ball and deposited a shot inside the far post to stake the Mustangs to an early lead.
While Gilroy nearly added a second score just five minutes later following a shot that connected with the crossbar, San Benito managed to turn the flow of the game onto Gilroy’s side of the field behind the speed of Palomino.
With Gilroy passing back toward its fullbacks, and sometimes its keeper, in order to stretch the field and keep control, the relentless Palomino used his speed to force the issue with the Mustangs, who often had to pass upfield a little sooner than expected.
The attack resulted in several turnovers in the Gilroy zone, but San Benito was unable to capitalize in the first half.
“After that first half, we knew Hollister was gonna come out with a lot of energy,” said Padilla, who later added, “They’re a great team and they fought hard and they found a way to get that goal in the second half.”
San Benito’s goal didn’t come until after Gilroy made it a 2-0 game just six minutes into the second half, however.
A long-ball pass from Mustangs territory turned into a breakaway opportunity for Jonathan Diaz de Leon. Despite a defender on his back, Diaz de Leon lifted a shot from roughly 25 yards out that sailed over the keeper’s head and into the left side of the net.
“It was a lack of communication, pretty much, between the defender and the keeper,” Deras said. “The defender thought the keeper was gonna come out and get it, and they both kind of pounced and didn’t know what to do. They tried to recover, but it was too late.”
Although the game was very much back-and-forth at that point, the Balers weren’t able to properly respond until the 68th minute, when a cross pass from Jose Juan Santoyo ricocheted off a pack of players inside the 6 and out to Palomino at the 10.
Palomino then delivered a laser into the left side of the net to make it 2-1, but it was as close as the Balers would get.
“Obviously, Palomino, he was gonna get a goal,” Padilla said. “We were just hoping we would score more than he would, and that was the case.”
The win improves Gilroy to 7-2-2 overall, and drops San Benito to 6-2-2 overall, 0-2-1 in the TCAL.
Both teams will have a quick rebound on Monday, as the Balers will host Palma at 3:30 p.m., while the Mustangs will visit Alvarez at 3:30 p.m.
TEAM 1 2 F
SANB 0 1 1
GILR 1 1 2