Like a pack starved for success, the Cougars rattled off five
unanswered goals in completely dismantling the Toreadors’ defense
to record a pivotal 5-1 victory.
Two losses stewed for a week. The bitter taste lingered.
The defeats didn’t sit well with the Christopher High boys soccer team – to say the least.
A 2-0 loss to first-place Watsonville on Jan. 21 was followed the next day by a disappointing 3-0 debacle against Pajaro Valley in an oddly scheduled Saturday tilt.
The setback against the Grizzlies left the Cougars with an unfavorable 2-3-1 record at the midway point of the Monterey Bay League season.
Nestled in the middle of the MBL standings, Friday marked a crucial encounter with Monterey – a team the Cougars tied 2-2 on Jan. 5 – to kick off the second half of league action.
Though must-win games are easy to assign, Friday’s matchup did carry an extra importance. And with head coach Stephan Casey absent due to a red card received during the Pajaro Valley affair, the Cougars needed to bring a sense of urgency to the pitch.
However, a defensive breakdown led to a 1-0 deficit 10 minutes into the first half and it looked as though the week of practice was for not.
But like a pack starved for success, the Cougars rattled off five unanswered goals in completely dismantling the Toreadors’ defense to record a pivotal 5-1 victory.
“It’s a motivation to get a win at home,” assistant coach Javier Canales said. “We dominated the game. We played a lot better than we expected. A lot of good stuff today and we came out with the win.”
Following the Toreadors’ tally, the Cougars began to pick apart their opponent’s defensive third. And despite an offside trap the Toreadors implemented on a regular basis, the consistent runs and combos by the Cougars proved to be the right antidote.
Cristian Manzo tied matters with a spot-on bomb from 40 yards out in the 15th minute, depositing the ball into the top, right corner of the net.
Three minutes later, Angel Trejo atoned for the defensive lapse that led to Monterey’s lone goal with the go-ahead score.
Jose Romo continued the first-half barrage, collecting the loose ball after it was sent into the box on a free kick for a 3-1 halftime advantage.
“We needed to step up big time,” Manzo said. “Coming off of a two-game losing streak you don’t feel like losing anymore. We needed to get that winning streak going for the second half of the season.”
Christopher’s speed up top with Marcus Harrell, Jose Chavez, Ivan Reynoso and Ipsen Tamayo began to manipulate play, and opportunities became bountiful as the second half rolled along.
“We were just trying to play our game,” Manzo said. “Their defense was trying to get us to go offside. We had our forwards stay at midfield and when we sent them (with a pass) they would just run and beat them one-on-one.”
Harrell broke loose on one of those through balls and had Jose Castillo to his right. Harrell flicked a pass to Castillo’s right foot and the sophomore finished the deal to make it 4-1.
Harrell later scored to conclude the fireworks display.
The triumph keeps CHS within striking distance of the first-place Wildcatz and second-place North Monterey County.
“We played two tough teams in a row. This was a big win after that,” Canales said. “From now we have to play it game by game with heart.”
CHS plays at Monte Vista Christian on Wednesday and returns home to face North Monterey County on Friday.