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Hat Trick By Alvarez Lifts Varsity Soccer Boys
Varsity player Andrew Benitez works to corral the ball and gets ready to make a run toward the goal in Wednesday afternoon action against Riverbank on Jan. 4. The host Cougars won the game, 5-1; Benitez notched an assist. Marg Jackson/The Times

A little bit of wet weather, some wind and a muddy field didn’t make for optimal playing conditions on Wednesday, but the varsity Cougar soccer boys didn’t mind. They came out and took a 5-1 win off the field from the visiting Riverbank Bruins.

The Wednesday, Jan. 4 game was the only one of the week for the Cougars and it was their Trans-Valley League opener.

“We were up 3-1 at the half,” said head coach Paul Silva. “Just two minutes in to the game we scored on a breakaway by Chris Gallo, Guillermo Alvarez got the assist. It was nice to put the pressure on them right away.”

Riverbank did tie it up midway through the first period on an odd angle shot that skipped past the keeper, making it 1-1.

“It didn’t bounce the way he thought it would,” Silva said of netminder Ismael Gonzalez allowing the goal. It was the only one he gave up in 65 minutes of play, while he made six saves. Luis Mendez came on late in the second half and played the last 15 minutes, making two stops.

Escalon put two more scores on the board in the final 10 minutes of the first half, Erik Paez scoring at the 30:00 mark.

“It came off a rebound, one of our players took a shot, the rebound came back and Paez hit it home,” said Silva.

Alvarez made it 3-1 four minutes later, Andrew Benitez got the assist.

In second half action, it was Alvarez netting both scores, completing the hat trick.

“He scored on a breakaway and then with 10 minutes left he scored on another breakaway for his third goal,” Silva explained.

The coach said it was a great way to kick off the season.

“Riverbank is essentially the premier program in our league, they have been,” he said. “They are down a little bit this year. They are down on numbers but they have talented kids.”

For the Escalon JV team, it was a tough situation on Wednesday as they were without some players, not yet returned from the holiday break.

“They were only able to dress 11 players,” Silva said of the JV team. “It kind of left them in a bad spot.”

Though they battled tough and found the net, the host Escalon JV team took a 5-3 loss to Riverbank in the contest. This week, Silva added, all players should be back and both the varsity and JV are expected to have their full complement of players. They were scheduled to be at Ripon on Monday, Jan. 9 after The Times went to press and go to Mountain House today, Jan. 11.



There was plenty of scoring in the Jan. 4 Trans-Valley League opener for the Escalon varsity soccer girls at Riverbank, where they came away with a 6-0 win. Goal scorers were Kyleigh Raffety, Mary Adams, Peyton Arnold, Gabby Goodman, Macie Chase and Morgan Dominguez. Notching assists on the day were Arnold, Goodman, Alondra Martinez and Angelica Fernandez. Everyone got some good minutes on the field, said coach Jamie Peoples. The girls are scheduled to host Mountain House today, Jan. 11 and travel to Modesto Christian on Monday, Jan. 16.