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Varsity Soccer Boys Take Tough Loss To Riverbank
Getting ready to send off the shot before the Riverbank defender can block it away is Escalon senior forward Alexiz Rodriguez, who did not score in the 2-1 league loss but had a solid game on the front line for the Cougars. Marg Jackson/The Times

Tied 1-1 at the half, Escalon’s varsity soccer boys fell to the visiting Bruins of Riverbank by a 2-1 final on Friday.

The Jan. 14 Trans-Valley League game was tightly contested and had plenty of on field fireworks. By the end of the game, Escalon had received a pair of yellow cards; Riverbank had one yellow and their starting goalie was issued a red card midway through the second half. They replaced the goalie but had to take a man off the field, finishing the game with just 10 players to Escalon’s 11.

“It was just an intense game, it always is with them, they’re our rivals in soccer and tensions were high,” explained varsity head coach Paul Silva. “In the first half we played really, really well. We were passing and creating a lot of chances.”

Riverbank took the early lead, however, scoring about 13 minutes in to the contest. Escalon answered at the 27-minute mark.

“We got a free kick, it kind of bounced around and Jacen Peoples knocked it in, he was in the right place at the right time,” Silva said.

There was no assist on the goal, as the free kick from Luis Flores deflected off a couple of other players before Peoples placed it in the back of the net.

About eight minutes into the second half, the Bruins got the go ahead goal, the shot curving inside the right post, just beyond the reach of a diving keeper Aldo Yepiz.

“Their first goal, I felt he was a little slow to react but the second one, there was not much he could do,” noted Silva of his netminder. “It was well struck.”

That left the Cougars playing catch up for most of the second half but Silva said they didn’t have the same type of approach over the final 40 minutes.

“I think we had more chances but they were more clinical than we were,” the coach pointed out. “We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. Our play just fell off in the second half. We didn’t involve teammates; we dribbled but were reluctant to pass.”

Especially after Riverbank went down a man, Silva said his team should have taken advantage of that much more than they did, not forcing the issue against the Bruins.

“That was the difference in the game,” Silva added. “They worked as a team while we were too individualistic, afraid to incorporate teammates. We needed to open up the field and exploit them being a man down.”

Failure to do that saw the final whistle blow with the score 2-1 in Riverbank’s favor.

There were some solid efforts on the Escalon side, however.

“Matthew Baptista played really well, he has just been a rock since joining us after football,” Silva said. “Alexiz Ramirez was not at 100 percent, playing with a hurt hamstring, but played well and Jacen Peoples played well too at center midfield.”

Not his normal position, Peoples stepped in to fill a spot with a teammate out and did an admirable job.

Aldo Yepiz had four saves in the loss.

Escalon ended the week 2-2-1 in league play.

The junior varsity squad crafted a 3-1 over Riverbank in their only game of the week. Individual scoring information was not available as of press time.

Games scheduled for this week were to include a home game against Ripon on Tuesday, Jan. 18 after The Times went to press, and a home game with Livingston set for Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Junior halfback Matthew Baptista, 18, keeps his eye on the ball during second half action Friday, Jan. 14 as the varsity Cougars hosted rival Riverbank on the soccer pitch. A second half tally lifted the visiting Bruins to a 2-1 win. Marg Jackson/The Times