Judging by the postgame celebration, it was impossible to tell who won the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 match up Saturday between the Warriors and Fortuna at the Del Norte soccer field.
Coach David Sanaolu, right, says a few words to fans after the game against Fortuna on Saturday. Seniors Niano Santos, left, and Jesus Herrera, center, received flowers and balloons from family members. Del Norte Triplicate / Michael Zogg
Despite a tough 7-0 loss to league-leading Fortuna on senior recognition afternoon for Del Norte, the Warriors were in a mood to celebrate the season, and the careers of its senior.
After the final handshakes between the two teams, the Del Norte players grabbed the leftover water in the Gatorade bucket and poured it over head coach David Sanyaolu.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Sanyaolu said afterwords.
The players were just looking to celebrate in front of the home crowd one last time.
“It was a good season, a fun season,” said senior goalkeeper Niano Santos.
After the impromptu shower, the team gathered on the sideline with fans and parents as Sanyaolu said a few words about each of the seniors — Santos, Juan Alvarado, Jesus Herrera and Christian Marquez.
After a quick team picture, fans attacked the players and each other with silly string.
This year’s seniors are special to Sanyaolu because they were freshmen when he took over coaching the boys in 2009.
“They are a good bunch,” Sanyaolu said. “I enjoyed working with them. It has not always been a bed of roses, but overall, I am honored to have been their coach for four years.”
Sanyaolu has been impressed with how far the team has come.
“They have shown a lot of maturity and discipline in the four years that I have worked with them,” Sanyaolu said.
The seniors have developed an appreciation and affinity for the sport of soccer.
“It is sad to be a senior, I want to play more,” Santos said. “We had a good team. I am glad that I played.”
On Saturday, the Warriors ran into a talented team. Fortuna is 8-1 in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 and in first place.
“Having lost to them 9-2 (on Sept. 25), we knew coming in their ability,” Sanyaolu said. “I just told the boys to try to put the basic things about soccer into play, but the opposition didn’t allow us to do that. They are just too good. They are an excellent team.”
Fortuna scored five goals in the first half. In the second half, the Warriors were able to cut back on Fortuna’s scoring chances, but the Huskies still dominated possession.
“I am proud of my boys,” Sanyaolu said. “We played hard, they tried their best. Sometimes you just have to admit that you got beat.”
The boys team will play its last game of the season on Wednesday at Arcata.