Daniel Boateng has not been around the Santa Barbara area long, but the sophomore sure is making a name for himself around the local community.
Boateng, a native of Ghana, arrived at Cate School two years ago and has been a goal-scoring machine ever since.
Last season, Boateng put away at least seven goals with a variety coming from wonderful passes from Buba Fofanah.
Now a senior, Fofanah and Boateng have a special chemistry on the field. When one scores, it is usually the other who assists.
In Cate’s season opener against, Fofanah scored two goals and assisted on Boateng’s only score.
Against San Marcos on Thursday night at Warkentin Field, the Cate pair again struck gold, each finding the back of the net off a pass from each other to help the Rams earn a 2-1 victory over the Royals.
“We have been practicing this at home all the time so, with me and him, the chemistry is like very close so I know where he is going to be all the time,” Boateng said.
“I just put it there for him.”
Boateng’s score came in the 15th minute of the match. After a steal in the midfield, Fofanah passed the ball deep up ahead to a running Boateng, who controlled the ball and ripped it from about 20 yards out, slotting it past San Marcos’s keeper for a 1-0 lead.
“I saw the ball and I saw like five guys behind me but there wasn’t any support so when I turned around I saw there was no defender so I told myself ‘okay I am just going to take it,’ and I just shot it in,” Boateng said.
Games against the Santa Barbara Channel League teams excited Boateng in particular because “they are super competitive.”
“We know a lot of them from club and it’s fun playing against them because it’s different from club and they always want to compete with us as well.”
His goal on Thursday was the result of a Cate team that looked better than San Marcos. The Rams won most of the 50/50 balls, kept solid possession and were overall a more aggressive team.
“We were not good enough from start to finish. Both those balls should have been stopped in the air before they even had an opportunity to finish so that was disappointing,” San Marcos coach Paul McLean said.
In the 20th minute, Boateng, who takes all the corner kicks for Cate, stepped out for a corner. One minute before, the sophomore hit it to the far post looking for Fofaneh, but San Marcos tracked him well and was able to sniff it out.
This time Fofaneh just sat right in the middle and waited for his running mate’s kick. The kick was perfectly placed and Fofanah hit it above the keeper’s head to put Cate up 2-0.
“It’s something we work on in practice. At first, we wanted to run the play we always run but I noticed they all followed me so I said ‘I’m just going to stand here’ and I told him (Boateng) to just go for it and it worked,” Fofanah said.
When asked about the two’s chemistry, Fofanah responded: “It’s him. He’s a really good player and it’s not hard to play with good players.
“We all understand the game and even if we don’t speak the same language, on the soccer field we all just know what to do.”
Up 2-0, the Rams were still playing just as hard, which sometimes got the better of them. There were multiple calls against Cate, with two players earning yellow cards on Tuesday and a foul in the 26th minute gave San Marcos a penalty kick.
Senior midfielder Dany Aguirre stepped in to take the shot and placed it on the bottom right corner of the goal to get his team back within one.
In the second half, Cate had one good look in the 43rd minute, when Jae Lim stepped into a shot from about 15 yards out, but the Royals’ Sam Friedman made an incredible diving save to keep his team close. Friedman finished with three saves in the second half.
On the flip side, San Marcos kept trying to find an equalizer.
“Our fast start felt great but I think their goal deflated us a little bit and we never got our heads right. In the second half, we had our moments, their keeper made a great save to start the half, but in those last 10 and 15 minutes we were hanging on our fingernails,” Cate coach Pete Mack said.
Those last 15 minutes saw San Marcos get off a slew of shots, off corner kicks, free kicks and just through running their offense, but none found the back of the net resulting in a Rams victory.
“We need some more creativity and some combination play, but ultimately, we need desire. Right now we are satisfied with average and we got beat for it,” McLean said.
After a disappointing draw on Tuesday against Arroyo Grande and Thursday’s loss to Cate, McLean said he just wants to see his team show that desire on Monday at San Luis Obispo.
“We will know when we are in it when we win 50/50 balls and head balls. I don’t care what happens on Monday I just want to see that because that is what desire looks like on a soccer field and we have not shown that the last two games,” McLean said.
For Boateng, the sophomore had his share of hitches in the road last season. The midfielder suffered through some injuries while getting used to the weather and climate here in Santa Barbara.
This season, however, Boateng has had no such setbacks, resulting in him playing some of his best soccer to start the year.
That combined with how well his team has looked in the first two games has him excited for the rest of this season.
“I feel like we are going to have a good team this season especially compared to last year when we were a bit sloppy. But we have won our games already and on Saturday we play another one and we hope to keep it going,” Boateng said.