While attempting to carve out a new offensive identity, Aberdeen can at least claim a season-opening victory over its trans-Myrtle Street soccer rival.
Aberdeen’s defense made a first-half goal by Isaiah Contreras stand up in a 1-0 victory over Hoquiam in a non-league contest Saturday at Sea Breeze Oval.
Perhaps predictably, this match-up of teams that had graduated their primary scoring threats from a year ago evolved into a defensive battle in which perhaps 70 percent of the action transpired in the midfield area.
Attempting to install more of a team-oriented passing attack following the graduation of leading scorers Juan Lopez and Juan Oropeza, the Bobcats enjoyed a significant advantage in time of possession, particularly in the first half.
Hoquiam, which also graduated its top scorer in Jonathan Molina, produced most of its scoring chances in the final 40 minutes, most of them off long passes and Brenner Carlstrom throw-ins.
Most of the opportunities on both sides, however, were snuffed out before quality shots could be launched. The teams combined for barely a half-dozen on-target shots.
Both coaches were understandably pleased with their team’s defensive effort.
“For playing on a muddy field we weren’t comfortable on, I thought we passed it around pretty well,” said AHS coach Larry Fleming. “We didn’t make good decisions in the last third (of the field). Defensively, we played well. All-around, a solid effort.”
“Defensively, I thought we played really well against a team that had a lot of skill players,” Grizzly coach Fidel Sanchez said. “We just need to generate more offense.”
Contreras’ goal prevented this contest from being decided in a penalty-kick shootout for a third consecutive year.
Aberdeen’s Victor Junco intercepted a clearing pass in the 33rd minute and fed ahead to Contreras, who broke in one-on-one against Hoquiam goalkeeper Tahj Malone. When Malone came out to meet him, the Bobcat sophomore forward lofted about a 10-yard shot into the roof of the net.
The Bobcats had squandered a prime scoring opportunity 11 minutes earlier when Victor Corona overshot the net from perhaps 15 yards out.
Malone, a first-year goalkeeper who made some acrobatic plays to pounce on free balls, also smothered Contreras’ close-in attempt off a Junco pass in the 31st minute.
Bobcat defender Todd Caba rode Hoquiam’s Justin Yi off the ball on a nice run up the right sideline early in the second half.
Hoquiam midfielder Alex PugaDeLaRosa fired wide after taking a Yi pass in the 67th minute and Bobcat goalkeeper Andres Valdes made the save on a header off a Carlstrom throw-in with about six minutes remaining.
The latter proved to be Hoquiam’s legitimate scoring threat. Malone turned away a mid-range Cesar Corona shot just before time expired.
Aberdeen’s defensive quartet of Seth and Todd Caba, Tavo Sanchez and Tony Jo drew Fleming’s post-game praise.
Malone, midfielder Osiel Rivera and sophomore defender Pedro Weber-Cruz were cited by Sanchez for fine play.
Anthony Churlin’s corner kick goal gave Aberdeen a 1-0 junior varsity triumph.
The Bobcats, who have only two home matches prior to April 17 (their final five contests are all at Stewart Field), host Black Hills in an Evergreen 2A Conference contest Thursday.
The Grizzlies will make their Evergreen 1A League debut Friday at Elma.