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Poor Field Conditions No Problem For Booters
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Playing one game at a time seems to be working for the varsity soccer Cougars.

First year varsity head coach Chris Oliveira said the team has been working well together in the past few games, taking on each opponent, one by one. This week, that led to twin wins, the Cougars upending Hughson 5-0 on Tuesday and then shutting down Ripon in a 4-1 decision on Thursday.

Neither game was played under ideal conditions, Tuesday's contest featuring high winds and gusty rain.

"Before the game, their coach said they had lost a few guys and I think they're still trying to recover from that," Oliveira said.

Even though Hughson was down a few players, the coach said he didn't believe that figured in much to the outcome, with Escalon's Sergio Torres a virtual scoring machine on the afternoon.

He paced the squad with a four-goal performance in dominating the Hughson defense.

"He went nuts," Oliveira agreed of Torres.

First goal of the afternoon came midway through the first half, Ricardo Paez getting Escalon on the board with the assist going to Saul Plascencia.

"Ricardo comes in about 15, 20 minutes into the game," Oliveira said. "When we get off to a slow start, like we did against Hughson, he really comes in and settles us down," Oliveira explained.

After Paez broke the ice, Torres put in the first of his four goals, Tony Azevedo had the assist, as the host Cougars took a 2-0 lead at halftime.

"We did pretty well, considering there was a horrid wind blowing to the north," noted Oliveira. "I thought we maybe were a little unlucky, being up only 2-0 at the half because in the second half we would be going into the wind."

But Oliveira instructed his players to keep the ball down - "out of the jet stream" - and use their passing skills to work the ball in for shots in the second half.

"We actually did better against the wind," the coach said.

Torres scored three goals in the second half, the first unassisted, then with Derek Castro and Plascencia notching assists.

"Jesus Duran should have had two or three goals but the Hughson goalie made some huge saves," Oliveira pointed out.

The Huskies had 21 stops by their keeper. Escalon's Julio Farias had just a handful, as most of the game was played at the other end of the field.

Back on the home field Thursday, the Cougars played to a 4-1 win over Ripon. The field conditions were poor, wet and muddy, very sloppy in spots.

Key play of the game was an early second half save by Farias that kept the game tied at 1-1, the Cougars moving on from there to score three unanswered second half goals.

Sergio Torres scored in the first half as the teams battled to the 1-1 tie midway through.

"Julio had seven saves for us and their one goal was on a penalty kick in the first half," Oliveira said of his keeper. "I can't say enough about the way he has played, especially considering he's a freshman."

The crucial save came early in the second half.

"He made a save that probably would have meant a 4-1 win for Ripon if he didn't stop it," Oliveira said.

The huge save, however, gave Escalon the confidence it needed, while Ripon seemed to falter and never regained their composure.

Jesus Duran, Ricardo Paez and Tony Acevedo had the second half goals, Plascencia and Torres had assists. Robert Oliveira stepped up and played a strong defensive game for the host Cougars.

"It has been a team effort," the coach said of putting together a string of wins. "It has been a different guy every game and that's what I love about this team."

The wins this week raised the team record to 10-12-1 overall, with a 6-4-1 mark in Trans-Valley League play. They were scheduled to be at Riverbank on Tuesday, Oct. 26 after The Times went to press. They will play at Patterson on Thursday, Oct. 28 and then close out the regular season on the road at Hilmar on Nov. 2.