Too many times this season, Kennedy High’s boys varsity soccer team allowed early goals, often as the result of a corner kick or free kick.
That’s not how it went down Thursday against Salesian in the Tri County Athletic League tournament, as it was the Eagles who scored two first-half goals on free kicks en route to a 4-2 win in the first round.
“We needed that one,” Coach Harry Campbell said.
Freshman Marco Gamez scored a header off a free kick on the 30-yard-line, Campbell said, and later junior Jose Tirado did the same thing to give Kennedy a 2-0 lead. Salesian chipped in a goal right before the half, and Campbell said he was getting nervous about a potential momentum shift.
But in the second half Tirado drilled a free kick for a goal, and later during a counter attack freshman Braham Flor faked a defender, cut to the side and scored off the top bar to seal the Eagles’ win. Kennedy will travel to St. Mary’s on Monday in the second round of the tournament.
Campbell also credits freshman Victor Ponce and sophomore defender Edgar Rivera for their solid play, saying they may have been the difference. Salesian had not played against those two before, Campbell said. Ponce can only play in games on Tuesdays and Thursdays because he works at a pizza restaurant on other days, the coach said.
Campbell called Rivera his “smartest player” and also applauded Gamez for an incredible freshman season in which he led the Eagles with 11 goals.
Richmond High boys varsity soccer
The top-seeded Oilers had a bye in the first round of the TCAL tourney and are set to play in the second round Tuesday.
Coach Rene Siles said his team, however, is prepping for the upcoming North Coast Section playoffs, which involves rehabbing injuries and getting some junior varsity players up to speed for a grueling tournament.
“We have two weeks to get ready, not much time,” Siles said. “It’s four games back-to-back. We need about 22 players that can play at this level.”