It was only a matter of time before Aberdeen’s pressure would crack Montesano, but not before the Bulldogs made the Bobcats work for more than a half to achieve it.
Aberdeen dominated play through most of this non-league boys soccer contest at Stewart Field, but Montesano kept the hosts scoreless until midway through the second half in the Bobcats’ 4-0 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Juanito Lopez, Juan Oropeza, Victor Corona and Titus Phillips scored for Aberdeen (2-0).
“I wasn’t totally ecstatic with our performance,” AHS head coach Larry Fleming said. “We showed some good things, passed the ball really well at times and won the ball a little bit more in the second half. Monte did a great job of challenging us. We did work hard and we’re improving on defense, really marking up on guys. I’m proud of the improvement we’ve shown there.”
Aberdeen’s attacking possession offense sent Montesano (1-2) back into a defensive posture for the entire first half. The Bulldogs forced many of the Bobcats’ shots in the half from long range, but goalkeeper Brett Cooper made five momentum-turning saves that kept the score knotted.
The biggest of the five saves came in the 25th minute. Cooper and senior forward Lopez collided inside the penalty area, with Cooper going low to smother the ball off the foot of Lopez. After Lopez was helped to the sideline, a penalty kick was awarded to Aberdeen on the play.
Senior Oropeza took the spot kick, but his high shot to the right was gloved and pushed away from goal by Cooper. The ensuing corner kick was cleared and Montesano kept the slate clean.
Cooper also saved blistering shots from Oropeza, Lopez and Phillips during the half.
“We passed really well right off the bat, but the goals …,” Fleming said. “Lopez couldn’t stop scoring, every shot, in our last game. Today, they were all going over. (Cooper) made some great saves and Montesano hustled and kept us from getting in close. In the second half, we talked about being patient. We had some good follow-up goals.”
“I thought we hustled really well in the first half,” Montesano head coach Jeff Lenherr said. “When you are outmatched in talent, you make up for it in hustle and the guys did that. I thought we played as a team in the first half and Brett spurred the whole team, especially with the PK save. We stayed connected on defense in the first half, but got fatigued in the second half and we got caught out of position a little bit.”
With as much pressure Aberdeen was putting on Montesano, the Bulldogs had to get some offensive possession to relieve the situation. The opening 10 minutes of the second half did that, but the Bobcats responded with their first goal of the match in the 53th minute.
A sharp series of short passes got the ball in tight to the goal, where forward Cody Mishler got a point-blank shot off that Cooper parried away. However, Corona was right there to scramble and deposit the ball in for the opening marker.
Four minutes later, Lopez finally found an opening for one of his long-range shots, a low, skipping rocket that found the lower right corner for the goal and a 2-0 lead. Isaiah Contreras got the assist, laying the ball off to Lopez to set up the shot.
Aberdeen continued to press and opened up Montesano’s defense in the process. Oropeza got his goal after his slalom dribble through the defense gave him a 1-on-1 with Cooper. A left-sided blast into the roof in the 68th minute made it 3-0.
Phillips finished the scoring in the 78th minute when his acute-angled shot from the right side split Cooper and the goal post in traffic.
Fleming cited reserves Contreras, Uriel Espino, Tavo Sanchez and Dominic Shaffer for their work off the bench.
Aberdeen won the junior varsity match, 4-1. Denis Calles, Jose Gomez, Victor Junco and Jake Myers scored for AHS. Jeff Varness scored for Monte.
On Tuesday, Aberdeen travels to River Ridge in an Evergreen 2A matchup. Montesano stays home to take on rival Hoquiam in an Evergreen 1A contest.