Kicking off the Trans-Valley League season, the defending TVL champion Escalon Cougars varsity soccer boys got a win and a loss this past week.
They opened up on the road at Ripon on Tuesday, Dec. 18 and crafted a 2-1 victory.
“It was 2-0 at halftime,” said head coach Paul Silva of his team taking the lead and then holding on for the win.
“Our first goal came midway through the first half, it was on a free kick that Jonathan Valeriano took from 35 yards out and stuck in the top corner,” added Silva.
Ten minutes later, Guillermo Alvarez made it 2-0 Escalon, notching the goal with the assist from Jose Mendez.
Ripon kept battling and got a goal with about eight minutes left in the second half.
Oscar Gonzalez had eight saves for Escalon.
“The first half, we were possessing the ball, creating opportunities, we hit the post two different times,” Silva explained. “We lost our edge a little in the second half and we were just holding on.”
They did manage to hang on to the lead and put the season opener in the win column.
Thursday, Dec. 20 at Livingston, it was a different story, as the host Wolves shut out the Cougars in a 6-0 final.
“It was 1-0 at the half, they scored about midway through,” Silva said.
Things fell apart in the second half, with the home team scoring five unanswered goals.
“It was a difficult game, we were really shorthanded, had just three subs. The flu has really taken a toll and we already had some kids gone for the holidays,” Silva said.
However, he noted, those factors did not take away from the solid effort their opponents displayed on the field.
“They’re a really good team,” he said of the Wolves.
Gonzalez had seven saves in goal in the loss; Silva is hopeful that the Cougars can turn the tables later this season when Livingston comes to play at Escalon.
The JV boys also earned a split in their first two TVL games, getting a hat trick from C.J. Borrego in a 4-0 win over Ripon on Dec. 18. Knotted at 0-0 at halftime, the JV boys exploded for three goals in a seven-minute span to take control of the game. Also scoring in the win was Jiovani Betancourt.
Then they traveled to Livingston and fell in a 2-0 final.
Soccer is off this week; the varsity will be back in action on the home field hosting Modesto Christian on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 3:30 p.m.