Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Antonio Iniguez goes up for a header during Thursday’s match with the Sanger Apaches.
The Madera Coyotes boys soccer team could only watch from the sidelines as the Sanger Apaches danced and splashed each other with water in Memorial Stadium, celebrating a 2-0 win which gave the program its first league championship since 1981.
It was a frustrating Thursday night at Memorial Stadium for the Coyotes, which included a missed penalty kick, a red card and some unfavorable calls.
Seeing his team’s frustration after the loss, Madera coach Nic Landeros brought the players together and reminded them to keep their heads up.
“We didn’t play a bad game,” Landeros said. “Sanger is a great team. We did a lot of good things tonight, so there’s no reason for us to feel down.”
The Apaches had their first opportunity in the fourth minute, but Johan Prado’s header went just wide of the goal. A minute later, Sanger’s Cristian Torres hit the post on a shot near the goal.
The Apaches’ next chance came in the 28th minute on a header, which sailed over the bar.
In the 35th minute, Madera goalkeeper Francisco Segovia made a diving save to deny another chance for the Apaches. The Coyotes came up empty on a corner kick in the final minute of the first half, keeping the game scoreless going into the break.
Madera appeared to finally get a break in the 45th minute when they earned a penalty kick. However, Jonah Hill missed the shot and kept the Coyotes scoreless.
Sanger ended its drought in the 50th minute on a goal by Cristian Torres.
Madera’s night turned more dim in the 56th minute when Nick Gonzalez received a red card after slamming the ball in anger in front of the referee.
Landeros disagreed with the referee, who said Gonzalez said something else to the official.
“He gave him a second yellow card and that’s the reason [Gonzalez] got the red,” Landeros said.
The Apaches officially turned off the lights on the Coyotes in the 77th minute when Torres scored his second goal of the game.
“When you have a tactical team like Sanger that knows how to move the ball well, you always feel like you’re out of position,” Landeros said. “But I give credit to these boys. They dug deep and they gave everything they could. I couldn’t be more proud of them for the effort.”