BSoc: Strong first half carries Dons past Royals

Brandon Sanchez of Santa Barbara wins a head ball as teammates Jorge Garcia-Torres (11) and Alejandro Munoz-Briones look on.

Brandon Sanchez of Santa Barbara beats San Marcos’ Freddy Carachure to a head ball as Dons teammates Jorge Garcia-Torres (11) and Alejandro Munoz-Briones (21) look on. (Presidio Sports photo)

Santa Barbara High brought the intensity for Friday Night Lights soccer against San Marcos and came away with a 3-1 victory in the Channel League boys  opener at Warkentin Stadium.

Jorge Garcia-Torres had a goal and an assist in the first half to lead the Dons (11-2-4, 1-0).

“What I liked about the first half was not just scoring the two goals, but I thought we matched, if not were better intensity-wise than they were,” said Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil.

San Marcos coach Rob Lauderdale said he was disappointed with the lack of intensity from his squad.

“Our game plan was to pressure high, pressure the back line, try and force them to send it long,” Lauderdale said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen. What happened was they came out and they were beating us on the 50-50 balls. They were applying the pressure. We ended up, unfortunately, playing the game we were trying to force them to play.”

The Dons scored their first goal in the 21st minute. A long free kick was flicked by Alejandro Munoz-Briones to Garcia-Torres on the right flank. An unmarked Garcia-Torres ripped a 20-yard shot past San Marcos goalkeeper Kyle Carter to the far post.

Munoz-Briones was making his first varsity start.

“Alejandro did a great job. He worked really hard on to and flicked that ball behind, and Jorge did what he does best – he’s a very good finisher.”

The Dons went up 2-0 in the 36th minute on a play that looked too easy. Garcia-Torres hit a beautiful crossing ball to the far post and Rafael Salmeron headed it into the back of the net.

“Props to our boys for staying home,” Heil said. “The ball didn’t leave the 18 and we stuck to our runs , keeping the ball alive and Rafael finished off the game-winner.”

On the play of Garcia-Torres, Heil said, “Jorge shows up in the big games. That’s when we need him the most.”

San Marcos played with a greater sense of urgency in the second half and got a goal to make things interesting.

Kevin Guzman scored for the Royals in the 56th minute. He hit a shot that was redirected by the foot of a Santa Barbara defender and got past goalkeeper Angel Cervantes.

The Royals almost scored the equalizer when Erick Garcia crossed to Luis Torres at the near post. Torres turned on the ball and hit a left-footed shot that was saved by Cervantes.

Lauderdale said his team played better during the second half .

“I know our potential,” he said. “We challenged our boys to come out in the second half and win the 50-50 balls. We had a decent preseason and we were excited about tonight and winning tonight. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t disappointment.”

Santa Barbara put the Royals away with a crazy goal in the 70th minute. Freddy Pacheco sent a high ball toward the goal. Carter came out to the top of 18-yard box to punch it away but he mistimed his jump on the high-bouncing ball. The ball got behind him and Carlos Rodriguez tapped it in for a 3-1 lead.

Heil credited Brandon Sanchez for setting up the goal.

“For us, we had the smartest guy probably on the field in that situation and that’s Brandon Sanchez,” Heil said. “I think Brandon got the keeper to think about him more than the ball, and once you start thinking about the player and not the ball the ball goes right by you.”