Benefield: Maria Carrillo goalie saves victory in face of Piner's onslaught
This one was a game of two halves and the second half has a name: Edgar Guerra.
Maria Carrillo’s junior goalkeeper faced down the barrage that the Piner High Prospectors, down 2-0 at halftime Tuesday, brought — and withstood it. Piner launched attack after attack in the final 40 minutes but were only able to slip one by — and with less than four minutes to play, it was too little, too late. The Pumas won 2-1 on their home field to move into first place in the tight North Bay League-Redwood Division boys soccer title race.
“Second half was pretty busy,” Guerra said. “Second half they were coming at us hard. I don’t know what the coach said over there, but they hyped them up and it was good fight ... but I got a couple good two, three saves.”
It seems that Guerra was so busy, he couldn’t count. He had well more than two or three good saves. His imposing physical presence and athletic ability in the back thwarted Piner time and again.
The plan, according to Pumas coach Trevor Brady, was to invite the Prospectors in, then shut them down. The Prospectors are too fast to allow them to spread out and play in wide-open spaces, so the Pumas decided to let them advance into their final third of the field, then simply crowd them out of any kind of comfortable rhythm.
“They are a very talented team, played physical, so I think if we tried to match them man-to-man pressure, we are probably not going to be as strong,” Brady said. “The game plan worked and we took care of our business and made some chances, so we are very pleased with that.”
The win moves the Pumas to 9-2-2 overall and 4-1 in league. Piner falls to 7-2-3 and 3-1-2 in league.
The Pumas did all of their damage in the first half. Both goals came off of corner kicks and both came off of the services of the aptly named senior, Rohan Crossland.
“He definitely had some great services tonight,” Brady said.
The first strike was a Crossland corner that senior Matthew Wojick headed home with nine minutes to play in the first half. Seven minutes later, it was Crossland again sending a ball into the box. This time it was senior James Roh who nailed a right footer to put the Pumas up 2-0.
For most teams, a 2-0 deficit at halftime, especially when the second goal comes mere seconds before the whistle ends the half, can suck the life out of a squad. But this Piner team can score and they can score in bunches.
The Prospectors have netted 41 goals in just 11 games — that’s a hefty average. So just 12 seconds into the second half, when Piner’s Sergio Villagomez missed with a scorcher that beat a diving Guerra to his right but went just wide of the post, it seemed like the Prospectors had a different energy than they showed in the first half. They did, but the Pumas withstood wave after wave of Piner offense.
“He’s a very talented keeper. We needed to draw him off his line more. We took too many direct shots on him,” Piner coach Sean Sutherland said. “They gotta finish. Put the ball in the net.”