Royals bounce back to tie Oxnard 2-2

Whatever they did at halftime, it worked.

The San Marcos boys soccer team turned things around drastically after a hapless first half Tuesday, picking up a 2-2 tie against visiting Oxnard in the Royals’ first game of the season.

“Everybody started communicating and we got our chemistry together at halftime,” said senior captain Alvaro Garcia. “We stepped it up in the second half, which was really good.”

The speedy Yellowjackets went up 2-0 in the first 45 minutes thanks to a long-range looping shot that ducked under the crossbar and then another from close range which came on a questionable no-call on a Yellowjacket being offsides.

“We came out a little edgy. It was our first game and we didn’t really know what to expect,” said coach Brian Eisen. “The first five minutes were just horrible and then slowly but surely we started feeling it.”

The second half started with few opportunities for either side, but the Royal defense had made some adjustments and stayed back to more effectively slow the Oxnard attack. The body language of the San Marcos players was also notably different.

About midway through, Jake Smargon crossed one from the right side onto the head of Mike Gallop, who was able to redirect the ball towards the goal but without much velocity. Smargon cleaned up, stepping in to beat the defense to the ball, and headed the bouncing ball again to make sure it went in.

Just a few minutes later, Jacinto Barreto sent a corner kick to Erik Gutierrez, who one-timed it into the back of the net to tie things up. The Royals won the possession battle the rest of the way and had a couple of opportunities for the winner, but couldn’t get one through.

Eisen was very pleased with his team’s response at the half.

“That’s what we need, especially against a team like Oxnard which has a strong history. They’ve got a good program, and to come back from two goals down is a real boost for us going into this weekend,” he said.

The Royals head to Fresno for the Clovis Tournament on Friday.