After a bye on Tuesday, the Escalon varsity soccer team did something they haven’t been able to do in quite a while.
The Cougars went on the road for the Trans-Valley League opener and, after battling to a 0-0 tie in the first 40 minutes of the contest, pummeled the host Bruins with five goals in the second half. Riverbank managed just one score, with the Cougars going home a winner, 5-1.
“They were definitely excited about beating Riverbank,” said head coach Paul Silva. “It has been a long time since we’ve beaten them.”
Escalon came out with a solid attack in the first half but fell into the Bruins’ offside trap too often, said Silva.
“We were playing well but their defense kept pulling that offside trap,” the coach noted. “We got whistled for offsides probably 10 times in that first half.”
With the Cougars maintaining possession and looking to break out into the open field, the Bruins deftly pulled back and caused the offsides. It was something the visiting Cougars addressed at halftime.
“We were more disciplined in the second half,” agreed Silva.
Recognizing that his team had decent speed, the coach said they could alter the attack slightly.
“We could afford to be a few yards back, we still got opportunities,” he said.
Escalon’s first goal of the game came just a couple minutes into the second half, on a corner kick from Guillermo Alvarez.
“It was a beautiful corner kick,” explained Silva. “We don’t practice them this way, but he just curved it right into the top corner.”
Alvarez got the goal, no assist, to put Escalon up 1-0. They took a 2-0 lead eight minutes later, on a Carlos Cruz goal, assisted by Denis Pineda. Goal number three came on a converted penalty kick by Jairo Duran. Riverbank got one back then, to make it a 3-1 Cougar lead. Cruz made it 4-1 with an assist from Alvarez and the final goal came with about five minutes left in the game, Alvarez notching the tally unassisted.
“He took it in from about midfield, put it away,” Silva said.
Escalon had 15 shots on goal on the day; Cougar keeper Ismael Gonzalez had six saves against the Bruins.
Starting off the league season 1-0, Escalon was due to be at home for a pair of contests this week. They were scheduled to host Ripon on Tuesday, Sept. 22 after The Times went to press, then will host Mountain House on Thursday.
“We saw Ripon at the Ripon Christian Tournament, we didn’t play them but we did get to see them play,” Silva said. “They are not quite as strong as last year. Mountain House, this is their first year as a varsity squad, so they have all juniors, no seniors.”
Game time on Thursday will be 4:30 p.m.
“It was a good win against Riverbank but that was just one win, there are nine (league) games to go,” noted Silva. “We’ve got to be ready for them, if we go out and play with the right intensity we should do okay.”
The JV boys, meanwhile, battled Riverbank to a 4-4 tie in their league opener.
Up 4-0 in the second half, Escalon saw the host JV Bruins chip away, goal by goal, and had to settle for the tie. Escalon also had a player red carded and were down a man for part of the contest.
They will also be on the field for two league games this week.