It was a cold and rainy evening, but no amount of water could douse the San Marcos boys soccer team hot offense as the Royals scorched past Pacifica High 3-0 on Tuesday night at Warkentin Field.
For second-year coach Paul McLean who was not only happy with the outcome on the scoreboard but the fact that every single player on the Royals side got to see some live game action.
“I love that our entire team got on the field. That’s fun for them, and it was a fun night to play under the rain. I would say there were a lot of positives, but lots of things to work on also,” McLean said.
For senior Dany Aguirre, he also appreciated being able to get some good minutes.
“It was actually my first game of high school and I was really, really excited. I had a big crowd thanks to my family. And once the coach called me up, I was excited to show what I am capable of,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre helped in the midfield and was a key cog in the great passing success San Marcos enjoyed throughout the match.
For him, Tuesday was the result of all the hard work throughout the summer and fall.
“(Tuesday) was a great experience. We have been waiting and practicing hard for a long time and it was a long road but the season is here and we are ready,” Aguirre said.
“We are just excited to take this game by game and keep improving how coach wants us to.”
For the most part, last season went well for San Marcos. The Royals were the league-leader in the Channel League for most of the season until they lost 3-0 against Santa Barbara in the final game of the regular season.
San Marcos then suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in overtime against the top seed in Div. 2 in postseason play.
All that contributed to the team being ready to come out and start the season off with a convincing win.
“Absolutely (last season played a role in how we came out tonight). Playing Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos makes us better every time, so we will always be excited to play those guys when the time comes. For now, we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, some of whom did experience last season, who we are eager to see develop,” McLean said.
The first goal of the season really could not have come much faster for the Royals. With just 1:10 in the game, a ball played into the box found its way to senior midfielder Jairo Flores who squared the shot with his right foot and got it past the keeper for the score.
Just a few minutes later, San Marcos kept playing at a high pace, one that caught Pacifica off guard and capitalized on it.
With the ball continually being attacked by members of the Royals team, a player from Pacifica accidentally shot the ball into his own goal when trying to clear it. That goal put San Marcos up 2-0 not even five minutes into the contest.
From there, San Marcos continued to run, but could not really find any good shots.
To open the second half, Pacifica finally looked like the more aggressive team, playing the ball into the Royals half of the field on a consistent basis getting two good shots off in the process with one trailing wide and the other sailing high.
In the 55th minute, however, San Marcos regained control of the pace of play and continually pushed the ball forward. Finally, junior midfielder AJ Ranii scored to put San Marcos up 3-0.
Ranii, who picked up a caution in the first half, showcased his speed throughout the contest and it finally showed itself in the second half when he tapped in a goal.
In fact, the Royals’ speed looked to be the key difference in their win on Tuesday.
It is something McLean wants to keep relying on as the season progresses.
“In short, we need to (use our speed). We’re an athletic group and we need to use that to our advantage. We created some goals just through effort and pressing and that won’t be the case against every opponent, but it worked tonight so that’s good,” McLean said.
San Marcos will be playing in four matches over the weekend at the Cats and Hounds Tournament in Paso Robles.