Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Saul Guerrero controls the ball for the Coyotes. He scored a goal in Wednesday’s loss to San Joaquin Memorial.
For the Madera Coyotes boys soccer team, its County/Metro Athletic Conference clash pitted them against both the Panthers and the elements.
Despite the heavy rain during moments of the match, the Coyotes took the challenge head on and never let up. They faced a talented and hungry San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno squad and they showed why they can be considered the class of the CMAC.
With a 3-1 victory at Memorial Stadium, the Panthers continued their quest for a league title.
For Madera, Saul Guerrero did what he could in a valiant performance. After going down 2-0 in the first half, Guerrero helped salvage some momentum for the home team.
The senior put in a captain’s performance as he led his team throughout the match on both sides of the pitch.
The Coyotes have shown they are contenders in the CMAC, but coming off a narrow loss to arguably the best team in the division, the Coyotes failed to find their way back into the win column.
Through 17 games, the Coyotes have won 10, including two CMAC games. Through 17 games last year, the Coyotes had won only two. Their improvements in all area sof the pitch haven’t gone unnoticed. Madera has worked its way into the top half of the conference and doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
However, Wednesday’s match belonged to the Panthers.
The game opened on even terms, but the Panthers began to find their footing as the rain began to fall.
Memorial launched an aggressive counter on the Coyotes. Luckily, the Coyotes’ never-say-die attitude allowed them to always be there at right time. The Panthers had two point-blank-chances go awry within the first 15 minutes of the match.
Goalkeeper Francisco Segovia did his best, but ultimately couldn’t overcome the Panthers attack. Segovia made an important save in the first quarter after he stood strong to deny the Panthers first chance, but the ball deflected back into the penalty area where two Coyote defenders put their bodies on the line as they denied Memorial of their first chance.
The Panthers relied on a combination of speed and strength as they forced their way into the Coyotes’ final third consistently. Their aggressiveness paid off. In the 12th minute, Segovia was unable to clear the ball after it bounced into his opponents’ path, which allowed a score.
Memorial only continued their assault minutes in the 19th minute after a second goal put the Coyotes into a 2-0 hole.
Although the Panthers had a two-goal lead, Madera came out swinging in the second half and found their answer.
Guerrero found the back of the net to give the Coyotes some promise for a comeback, but that slowly faded after the Panthers continued to force the issue.
Ryan Da Rocha and Jiovanni Gill did their best to work the ball down the wing, but their combination play was thwarted at seemingly every opportunity.
The Panthers played with the same level of commitment regardless of the score and that led to a third goal in the second half for the Panthers.