San Marcos High boys soccer coach Paul McLean had a simple message for his team following a 1-0 loss to rival Dos Pueblos on Tuesday night at Warkentin Stadium.
“We have to move on from this. We have no choice,” McLean said with his players gathered around him braving a few more minutes of cold temperatures.
McLean was as disappointed with the result as any of his players or assistant coaches. It wasn’t so much that the Royals lost and fell to 8-4-5, and 0-1-2 in the Channel League, it was how they lost: On a penalty kick in the 10th minute.
McClean thought his senior center back, Connor Hess, went in on a clean tackle in the 18-yard box against DP’s Scott Buie.
The referee felt otherwise when he blew his whistle and pointed at the 10-yard spot, where penalty kicks are taken. Buie grabbed the ball, put it on the synthetic turf 10 yards from goal, and promptly put a right-footed shot into the back of the net for the only goal the Chargers would need.
“You just want a referee not to be involved in the game in unnecessary ways, and that seemed unnecessary,” McLean said.
DP coach Matt York was also asked about the foul in the box that resulted in a penalty kick.
“It came down to a PK, I guess, because that was the goal differential, but that was early in the game,” York said. “There was a whole lot of game that was played after that. I thought our guy was taken down in the box from my angle a little bit.”
York said he liked the fact Buie got up after being taken down and grabbed the ball for the PK.
“I was really proud of (Buie) for stepping up and saying he wanted to take the PK. He actually pushed away my striker for it. We have a lot of guys who have confidence and are willing to step up and want to make the big play.
“I have a lot of guys who are step-uppers and not step-backers.”
DP came out and took the game to San Marcos over the first 15 minutes, but the Royals turned the tide and were the more dangerous team as the half wore on.
San Marcos had three corner kicks over the final 10 minutes of the first half. All three produced quality scoring chances. But the Royals failed to put anything away.
“I thought we had some good moments,” McLean said. “We knew DP was good, but I think we maybe didn’t play like we know how to play until we were down a goal. Then I thought we loosened up and played the kind of soccer we know how to play.”
Dos Pueblos put forth a strong defensive effort after the goal to improve to 10-3-2 overall, and 2-1 in the Channel League.
Even though the Royals were dangerous at times, the Chargers’ back line, made up of four seniors, proved to be impenetrable.
“My defense, all seniors, all studs back there,” York said. “They work really hard and they work together. I have a lot of confidence in those guys.”
As good as DP’s defense was, San Marcos goalkeeper Sam Friedman was just as impressive.
Friedman made a spectacular diving save in the seventh minute, and came up with another big save in the 60th minute on a low, hard shot from the top of the 18-yard box.
“He made two excellent saves that probably could have been goals,” McLean said. “Sam has gotten better and better as the games have become more important. He’s made a number of excellent saves.”
McLean preached his message after the game because he felt it was important for his players to be able to put the result behind them, and get ready for a strong Santa Ynez opponent on Thursday.
“That’s the most important life lesson about sports is the ability to experience failure — a loss in this circumstance — and then figure out how to shelve it and move on and focus on the next thing.
“That’s what the best athletes and the best teams do. They have short memories.”