The match between the Dos Pueblos High boys soccer team and San Marcos had a lot on the line for both sides Thursday evening.
For the Chargers, an outsider’s chance at the Channel League crown still existed while for the Royals, their at-large hopes currently rest on their record, which is in desperate need of a few wins.
No team got what they wanted in this outing, however, with the match ending in a 0-0 draw at Scott O’Leary Stadium.
For Dos Pueblos, the team will remain in third place with 13 points and a 4-3-1 Channel League record.
However, because Santa Barbara (6-0-2) won on Thursday, the Chargers now have no chance at winning the league crown. Santa Ynez is in second place with a 5-2-1 league record.
“I think overall, our team played really well as a unit and we came out here and did what we needed to do. We possessed the ball, worked as a unit. We are a family and a brotherhood here at DP, and I feel like we definitely proved that today as a team despite the tie,” DP’s senior forward Aldo Becerril said.
For San Marcos, ties are just not going to cut it anymore. The Royals, with a 1-4-3 Channel League record, are all but eliminated from earning a top-three finish in the league, which would mean an automatic bid to the CIF playoffs.
Instead, the Royals have to lay their hopes on an at-large bid.
“Nobody ties like we do. We are a force when it comes to tying,” San Marcos coach Paul McLean joked after the game.
“Both teams had some good chances to score goals and didn’t, which is disappointing I’m sure for them too. We probably had the most clear-cut opportunity and weren’t able to put it away, which is frustrating and again we were in a situation where we need the points more than they do.”
In the first half, the Chargers dominated possession and got a lot of good looks at a goal, but San Marcos’ junior goalkeeper Sam Friedman made some spectacular saves.
First, in the 15th minute, Bubba Gutierrez fired a shot from about 25 yards out that was on target. Friedman stretched out and just got enough of the ball with his left hand to tip it over the crossbar.
Later, in the half, CJ Rodriguez took a free-kick from just outside the 18 and Friedman blocked the shot on target.
“Sam has grown in confidence in each game that he’s played. Even coming out and claiming balls and doing the little things that are also important make it easier on us to play,” McLean said.
Luck was also not on the Chargers side in some instances. In the 19th minute, Kaiser Kurexi passed the ball into the 18, looking for Hayden Carlson on a header.
The pass was just a bit too high for Carlson, however, and was cleared by a San Marcos defender.
In the second half, DP was dominant at the start, but San Marcos nearly stole the game in the 64th minute.
That was when Juan Escobar received a great feed from about 30 yards out, putting him behind the Chargers defense.
Escobar then made a beeline toward the goal and got the keeper to step out from his line. Escobar did not put the shot on frame, however, attempting to juke out the keeper to have an empty net.
Instead, Jorge Dominguez Soto came up big for DP, falling right on top of the ball to stop the run.
“He had to keep his wits about him and he did a great job on that. He’s a senior and he’s been doing this stuff for a long time. He slipped on top of that and still had the presence of mind to keep his eyes and his head up. He maybe had a little luck from the soccer Gods looking down on us and the ball went toward him,” Chargers coach Matt York said.
“You know you make your own luck in this game and he was in a good position.”
From that point, both teams made some runs but none resulted in a game-winning shot. It was a much different outing from Tuesday’s 17-0 win over Cabrillo for Dos Pueblos.
“Every game is different and San Marcos is a tough squad. Paul is always going to get his team to play hard and it doesn’t matter what the standings are, they are always ready to play and they gave us a great battle,” York said.
Despite not having a chance to finish with a Channel League crown in his senior year, Becerril is still excited about his team’s performance in the last few games.
“We struggled a bit like towards the middle of the season, but It just took time. We were in a little hole and we talked about it, discussed it as a team and now we are proud to be back,” Becerril said.
“We’re trying to always win and just try to prove to ourselves that we’re just a good team.”