The Corona boys soccer team suffered its first setback of the season with a 2-2 draw against Highland in a region game.
The Aztecs traveled to Highland for their third road game of the year and started out slowly. Just seven minutes into the game, a ball passed back to the Aztec goalie ended up in the possession of a Hawk forward, who slid it into an open net. Then seven minutes later a Hawk forward made a great run through the defense and fired a rocket to the near post. The Aztec goalie had no chance and the Aztecs were down 2-0 after 15 minutes.
“It’s on the individual players,” head coach Dan Salas said. “It’s them not being personally prepared. If you’re mentally prepared that’s not going to happen.”
“We need to talk and communicate more so that doesn’t happen again,” senior Tanner Pile said.
The Aztecs fought back, and earned a free kick from 25 yards out. Senior Ryan Flood ripped one into the top corner with ease and didn’t celebrate because he knew there was more work to do to overturn the 2-1 deficit.
The Aztecs dominated possession for the rest of the half but could only hold the ball around the midfield line. Another pass back to the goalie ended up in the Hawks’ possession but the player fired wide. Halftime came with the Aztecs lucky to only be down 2-1.
“You create your chances in training,” Salas said. “From a player to player standpoint they haven’t been focused in the moment. They’ve been complacent. This is the result you’re going to get if you’re training at 75 percent.”
The second half was a different story. Highland sat back and attempted to hold onto its lead. The Hawks defended well and it took until there were 16 minutes left for the Aztecs to break through. Eventually, Pile got his head on a cross and directed into to the far post to tie the score.
“I have to win the ball (when it’s in the air),” Pile said. “Everyone expects me to do it and I have to do it for them.
The Aztecs pressed for a winning goal in the last 15 minutes but couldn’t score. The game went into two 10-minute extra time periods. In the first period, junior Bryan Oliveras chipped the ball over the goalie and the ball appeared to go over the line before a Highland played kicked it out. The ref ruled the ball never went in and the score remained tied.
The remaining time ran off with the Aztecs putting a lot of pressure on the Highland defense, but Highland held strong for the 2-2 draw.
“With playoffs coming up, it’s a really big push to go back to how we played earlier,” Pile said. “Our flow of passing was a lot better. We have to work harder in practice and remember what here for and what our goal is.”
It was the first major setback for the Aztecs, because this was a winnable game and they failed to convert. Highland rarely threatened except when the Aztecs made major errors on the back line, Highland never looked likely to score. The offense had many opportunities that they sent wide.
“Success or failure happens because of (the players),” Salas said. “We’re fortunate to have enough games left in the season where we can use this experience as a positive. If we choose to train with a mentally of indestructibility this is the result we deserve.”