BOYS SOCCER: Strong second half lifts GHS past North Salinas

Gilroy's David Guenther battles for control of the ball with

Mustangs improve to 5-0 in league, Salinas next on Friday.
As the players huddled for the brief halftime stoppage, an unfamiliar scenario faced the Gilroy High boys soccer team.

You have to go back to Dec. 14 for the last time it happened. That day concluded with a 1-0 non-league loss to Live Oak. Through the first four Tri-County Athletic League tilts it hadn’t occurred.

“This was the first team to shut us out in the first half in league this season,” GHS head coach Armando Padilla said. “We weren’t really feeling the game.”

Visiting North Salinas had the Mustangs scratching their heads for the first 40 minutes of the team’s TCAL appointment Wednesday night, holding the Mustangs scoreless and limiting them to just one shot on net.

“I said, ‘hey, these guys just shut you out. How are you guys going to respond?'” If you want to get to 5-0 you better figure it out,” Padilla said, recalling his necessary halftime message.

And GHS did indeed respond.

Jorge Sanchez put the Mustangs on the board four minutes into the second half and Jonathan Diaz De Leon followed suit in the 61st minute to propel GHS (9-2-2, 5-0 TCAL) past the Vikings 2-0.

“Our two main guys figured it out and there’s the result,” Padilla said.

Diaz De Leon and Sanchez have both scored in four of the five league outings and pace the team in goals scored as assists.

“If you look at our team, we know our strength is up top,” Padilla said. “If those guys get the ball and kind of feed off one another, they are going to get results.”

Diaz De Leon as stamped his name to 12 goals this season while Sanchez has booted home eight.

The tandem’s tallies were ultimately the deciding pieces, but it was two stellar stops in goal and a defensive adjustment, which factored in just as importantly in the triumph.

It didn’t take long for Vikings” forward Albert Garcia to get involved – and Mustangs’ goalie Carlos Jimenez was right there waiting.

Garcia, who provided much of the offensive opportunities for the Vikings got loose six minutes into the game and had just Jimenez to beat as he entered the penalty area. Jimenez committed to charging out of his net and belly flopped in front of Garcia, tapping the ball of the strikers foot for the save.

“(Garcia) was going to have his chances. Today he had his chances,” Padilla said. “He was either going to score or set up a nice assist. He got behind us a couple times. Carlos … huge. Saved us. Otherwise we are down 2-0.”

The two encountered one another again in the 24th minute and again Jimenez came through. The sophomore sprawled out, belly up, legs out as Garcia let-fly a short-range cannon that Jimenez deflected wide with his left foot, salvaging the tie.

“It was just luck,” Jimenez quietly said. “He was coming fast. My reflexes, just, boom. I read his foot.”

A 0-0 tie didn’t sit well with the Mustangs and it was evident as the second half commenced that things were about to change.

Two minutes in, Diaz De Leon ripped two shots from the left angle that were stopped. Moments later, as the Vikings attempted to clear the area, Diaz De Leon picked a Vikings pocket and threaded a pass to Sanchez who forced the goalie to come out of position. The senior captain slotted the ball into the lower left corner for the 1-0 lead.

Sanchez returned the favor later in the half as he hit Diaz De Leon with a nice through ball. The junior settled on the move and deposited the insurance goal.

The Mustangs play their third game of the week Friday at Salinas, who sits in third place at 2-1-2.

“That will be a tough contest, especially over there at The Pit,” Padilla said. “It seems like every team as one or two players who are dynamic. We have our hands full.”

Game time is slated for 3:30 p.m.

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