Preserving the lead

Preserving the lead

Emily Vu

The varsity boys soccer team hangs on for a 4-3 victory against Cupertino at home

Key saves in the last moments of the game by junior Jonathan Yee preserved a 4-3 win for the Matadors over the visiting Cupertino High School Pioneers.  Despite some defensive lapses, the Matadors displayed glimpses of offensive brilliance that let them take the lead and emerge victorious from their fifth preseason match with a 4-1 record. 

The Matadors started off strong with captain senior Tsuk Haroush controlling the midfield while junior Alex Onishi led the defense. Junior Nathan Burroughs showed some fancy footwork at right back, as he continuously pressured the ball to prevent Cupertino’s right striker from advancing into Matador territory.

"[Cupertino] is in the lower division, but we try to train hard for every team," Haroush said.

Junior Joshua LeFevre took advantage of a Pioneer mis-communication by maneuvering his way past multiple defenders to score the first goal of the afternoon.
Although the Matador defense lost its focus, Yee was able to prevent the Pioneers from scoring. He made immaculate saves in the net, blocking four attempts from the Pioneers. Unfortunately, he was unable to stop the penalty kick — given to the Pioneers after a harsh tackle by senior Alex Dor — that tied the game up 1-1.  Although Yee dove the right way in attempt to stop the ball, the Pioneer managed to shoot the ball past his hands and into the bottom left corner of the net.
"I felt a lot more comfortable [as goalie] than I was freshman and sophomore year," Yee said. "But as a team, we need to focus."
The Pioneer goal served as a momentum booster for the Matadors. Now, pressured to regain their lead, the Matadors immediately showed better communication and found their rhythm. Haroush led the offense down the field, and sophomore Malek Bashti managed five touches on the ball before he kicked the ball straight past the goalie and into the net to put the Matadors back in the lead at 2-1.
Under pressure, the Pioneers attempted to put up a tough fight against the Matadors — literally. They unleashed their pressure as violence on the field, which finally resulted in a penalty when one defender harshly tackled Bashti inside the box. Bashti then shot the penalty kick, but was blocked by the Pioneer goalie. However, the Pioneer goalie illegally stepped off of his line, allowing the Matadors to retake the penalty. Haroush directed the ball straight into the net to place the Matadors in the lead 3-1 at the end of the first half. 

Play restarted with co-captain senior Gabriel Pereyra replacing junior Michael Kute.  Pereyra instantly took control of the midfield but a defensive breakdown allowed Cupertino to score, cutting the Matadors’ lead to one goal. 

The Matadors tested the Cupertino goalkeeper with a number of efforts, including a 15-yard shot by Haroush that went narrowly wide and a breakaway by senior Christian Chu that trickled past the lower right hand corner of the goal. 

Junior Yash Chitneni darted up the left side of the field but the pass went behind him and he could only watch as the ball was sent out of play by a Cupertino defender.  A few minutes later, Pereyra flicked the ball to LeFevre, but the Cupertino goalkeeper managed to get his hands on the ball before LeFevre could make a play on it.

A hotly contested call by the referee on Alex Dor —resulting in a yellow card for him — gave Cupertino a free kick from the left edge of the 18 yard box.  Yee made the save, preserving the lead.

Haroush used his head to redirect the ball to LeFevre, who buried his shot into the back of the net.  However, the linesman ruled that Haroush was offside and the goal was disallowed. 

At the other end, Burroughs blocked a cross. Haroush then found the ball at his feet and held on to the ball even while three defenders pressured him. He unleashed a pinpoint pass that LeFevre converted on, making the score 4-2 Matadors. 

The Matadors seemed content to hold on to their lead and Cupertino made them pay by scoring a goal, bringing the score to 4-3 Matadors.

Cupertino received a flurry of chances near the end, but Yee kept everything out of the goal, and the match ended 4-3 for the Matadors. 

"We scored four goals and they scored three goals, that’s the bottom line today," coach Mia Onodera said.  "It was not one of our better games though."  

The Matadors will continue their preseason with a game against Santa Teresa on Tuesday, Dec. 15.