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Spartans and 'Cats play to tie

January 20, 2002|By TOM RONCO

Special to this newspaper

BRAWLEY — On a chilly night that saw the offense for both teams even chillier, the Brawley Union and the Central Union high boys soccer teams played two regulation halves and two 10-minute overtimes to a 0-0 tie in an Imperial Valley League match here Friday.

A tie, as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

"It feels more like a win to me," said Central coach Jim Graham. "We are playing Brawley at their house and I have an extremely young team, so we were playing for the tie and hoping to steal a win."

"It's a tie but it feels more like a defeat because we deserved a better outcome," said Wildcat coach Frank Felix. "All games against Central are wars and they always seem to go into overtime, so we expected a hard match."

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The match was an interesting "chess game" for soccer aficionados, who had to appreciate the battle between the offensive-minded Wildcats and defensive-minded Spartans.

"We did not intend to be entertaining," said Graham. "Our plan was to let Brawley control the field until they got near our 20-yard line and then hit them hard."

"They put everything but their bus in front of the goal," said Felix. "Central did a great job of playing defense and did not let us get a clear opportunity at their goal."

The Wildcats are the more veteran team and it showed as they dominated the first half with seven shots on goal to none for Central.

"The ball wouldn't go in," said Brawley senior midfielder Alfredo Campas. "We played good as a team but they played a lot of defense and I couldn't take a good shot."

"He (Campas) is our go-to guy and our outlet on the left side but our touch wasn't there," said Felix.

"As a team we did everything we could to score and we created numerous chances and I have to say we were very unlucky."

Central dodged those offensive bullets in part with great goalkeeping from sophomore Martin Lemus.

"He's one of the main reasons that we can keep matches close," said Graham. "Earlier in the season we were giving up multiple goals but not anymore."

Central also had a somewhat un-offensive mindset.

"My job was to push the ball wide because we knew it would be tougher for them to score if we did, and we did our jobs," said defensive midfielder Abraham Villanueva.

In the second half, Brawley continued to control the ball but Central pressed offensively with quick counter-attacks.

"Their players were all on their half of the field playing defense and waiting for a loose ball to try to score," said Campas.

Graham agreed, saying, "We didn't just pack the goal. We had our chances and we were looking to score without leaving our game plan."

As the match went into the overtime periods, fatigue took its toll and the match became increasing physical.

"They really didn't pressure us. They played the long ball so we ran more than they did," said David Santana, a Wildcat outside fullback who found himself increasingly on the offensive side of the pitch.

"We passed good and had a lot of touches and they were giving us too much time and space, so I went forward on the overlap, which I like because it gives you a chance to score."

Both teams had excellent scoring opportunities early in the first overtime.

Campas found a loose ball in the box and shot just wide.

Central's Michael Bastidas then disposed a Wildcat defender, drew goalkeeper Arturo Echeverria out of the goal and crossed the ball in front of the open goal, only to have no Spartan there to finish.

"This was a tough match and they have good players," said Central captain Luis Jimenez. "We played to win or tie and we controlled the tempo and didn't make mistakes … this came out perfect!"

Brawley (2-1-1 IVL) will travel to play Calexico at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday while Central (2-1-1) travels across El Centro to play Southwest at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I think it was a good outcome for both teams as it keeps both of us in the race," said Graham.

Imperial 8, Julian 0

JULIAN — The Imperial High boys soccer team continued its winning ways in the Desert Mountain League with an 8-0 victory over Julian High here Friday.

Paul Rivas led all scorers with four goals, followed by Victory Silva with three. Anthony Guardado added one for the Tigers (4-0 DML).

Imperial will host Mountain Empire at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Southwest 1, Calexico 0

In a battle of Imperial Valley League undefeateds, the Southwest High boys soccer team topped Calexico High 1-0 in El Centro on Friday to take sole possession of first place in the IVL.

Jorge Renteria scored Southwest's lone goal.

Both teams host games at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, with Southwest taking on Central Union and Calexico playing Brawley.

Girls soccer

Central 3, Brawley 2

Down 2-0 at halftime, the Central Union High girls soccer rallied past Brawley Union High to get a 3-2 Imperial Valley League victory in El Centro on Friday.

Ana Nava led Central with two goals, followed by Marisol Rodriguez with one.

Both teams will host games at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, with Central playing Southwest and Brawley playing Calexico.

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