Rain and wind set the stage for a sloppy game on the soccer field Wednesday, as the Cougars welcomed the Riverbank Bruins to town for a Jan. 16 Trans-Valley League contest. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.
“We scored first, Jonathan Valeriano took a free kick a couple minutes in, it was past midfield, over 50 yards and it went over the goalie’s head, he misplayed it,” head coach Paul Silva said of the unassisted tally by Valeriano.
Not necessarily a fluke, the coach said Valeriano routinely works on those long range kicks in practice and it paid off in the game.
“Riverbank scored a minute later, then scored another a minute later,” Silva added of quickly losing the advantage.
That gave the visitors a 2-1 lead and they went up 3-1 before the end of the first half, putting another one in midway through the period.
“It was not good goalie weather,” Silva said, noting that keeper Clay Evans had to deal with a muddy bog in front of his net and that gave him some problems
“These were difficult conditions, it was rainy, wet, the ball was slick,” Silva said.
Down by two goals, the host Cougars were not to be outdone and they came back strong in the second half.
“About five minutes in, Jonathan scored on another free kick to make it 3-2, this one was from the 18, he struck it into the top corner,” Silva explained.
Five minutes later, Valeriano assisted on the game-tying goal.
“He headed it into space, Guillermo Alvarez got on it and put it in,” Silva said. “Jonathan had a great game, he was part of all three goals.”
The coach added that the team was unhappy at halftime, not satisfied with the effort they had put in during the first half.
“They felt they didn’t account for the conditions and in the second half we played a lot better,” Silva said.
Evans had two saves in the first half, Oscar Gonzalez came in and had three saves in the second.
While not getting the win, the Cougars did forge the tie, coming back from the early deficit to pull even.
Friday, they hosted Ripon and had a much more complete effort, defeating the Indians by a 6-2 final.
JV goalie Bryan Barrientos was brought up to start the game and had five saves in goal, while JV player CJ Borrego also joined the varsity squad and made an impact.
First half scoring for Escalon came from Gabe Romero with the assist from Alvarez six minutes in, with Alvarez scoring unassisted a minute later. With about five minutes to go in the half, Jose Mendez put in the goal of the day.
“He was playing a wing and it was such a determined play,” said Silva. “He battled through two defenders, it was one of the more tenacious goals I have seen.”
Second half scoring came from Borrego, about 10 minutes in, with the assist from Valeriano. Ten minutes later, it was Alvarez netting the goal and Valeriano notching the assist, with the final tally for Escalon coming at the 23-minute mark of the second, Alvarez scoring unassisted.
Ripon scored with five minutes left to avoid the shutout, making it 6-1, then converted a penalty kick goal with about a minute left, for the 6-2 final.
Once the Cougars had a comfortable lead, Silva started subbing and got playing time for nearly everyone.
The JV boys fell in both their contests for the week, losing 2-1 to Riverbank and 2-0 to Ripon.
Action this week was to include a home game against Livingston on Tuesday, after the Times went to press and then a road game at Modesto Christian on Thursday, Jan. 24.