The Sanger Apaches boys soccer team capitalized on two second-half goals to down the Madera South Stallions, 2-1, in a County/Metro Athletic Conference match at Lee DaSilva Field in Memorial Stadium.
“I want to give them a round of applause for the commitment they had for today’s game,” Madera South head coach Enrique Garcia said on his team’s effort. “The game of soccer doesn’t always go the way you want it. We had many opportunities, but we just failed to put them away. That’s the way it goes.”
Although Christian Garcia and Anthony Castro did their best to keep the Stallions afloat Thursday night, the Apaches ability to defend deep, then counter in an instant proved costly for Madera South.
The game opened in favor of the Stallions with an early goal through Garcia’s vision and Castro’s clinical finishing.
After Garcia picked out Castro with an accurate pass, Castro locked in and fired away inside the Apaches’ final third for the early score.
Madera South almost doubled its lead minutes later, but David Vasquez sent his shot wide of the net. Vasquez reclaimed a loose ball in the Apache final third before he instinctively put his head up and fired away from 30 yards out.
After providing an assist early on, Garcia took it upon himself to bring his team to victory and it nearly worked.
He dribbled past one Sanger defender, then another before unleashing a curling right-footed shot, 10 yards from the goal. The ball sailed just an inch or two over the crossbar.
The Apaches got on the board after halftime. Sanger capitalized on a short-free kick, just outside the Stallions penalty area. Saul Sanchez sent the right-footed shot past the Madera South keeper Jose Carranza for the equalizer.
Madera South did have their chances in the second half through Kevin Osuna.
Osuna almost won the game single handedly in the 60th minute after he dribbled 20 yards into the Apaches’ penalty area, dodging and dribbling past Sanger defenders determined to stop him. He nearly had an opening but couldn’t fit the ball past the Apaches defender and opposing keeper.
With the game inching closer to the full-time whistle, both sides were determined to grab the winning goal and if it wasn’t for a heads up play by Diego Hipolito, Sanger might’ve had a bigger margin of victory.
Carranza couldn’t corral a shot by a Sanger forward, which allowed the deflected shot to roll toward goal, giving the Apaches a definitive 2-1 lead if the ball went it.
However, just as the ball reached the line, Hipolito flew in, out of nowhere, to clear the ball off the Stallions’ line, saving a goal in the process.
Sanger did get their moment, though.
After Madera South took the ball down the pitch looking for a score, the Apaches countered fast and caught the Stallions out of position.
Gabriel Torres for the Apaches outpaced everyone on the pitch to track down a forward ball. He sized up the Madera South goal before unleashing a fast, low shot for the game-winning goal.