The Del Norte boys soccer team managed to dominate possession and create more scoring opportunities in its season opening game against Arcata, but the Warriors couldn’t quite separate themselves from the Tigers after 80 minutes, starting the season with a 1-1 draw.
Although Del Norte wasn’t able to start with a win, head coach David Sanyaolu saw plenty to be proud of in the team’s first game.
“Goals apart, I felt like we were the better team because in the second half we were all over them,” Sanyaolu said. “Our goalkeeper Ro-tah (Shorty) was actually on holiday in the second half because the ball wasn’t coming to him.”
Although Shorty didn’t see much action between the posts as Del Norte controlled the ball for most of the second half, the senior midfielder-turned-goalie provided some much needed stability for the Warriors in goal in his first full match in the position.
“His anticipation and reflexes were great,” Sanyaolu said. “We have been working a lot with him in practice. To be frank that is an area that most of us thought would be a problem because that is not his natural position or what he has played. He is just helping the team because he would rather be playing outfield, but for him to step up and help us was really nice to see. We hope that continues.”
Although the first half was a little more evenly played, Del Norte managed to grab a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.
“We fed the ball to our right winger Jose Regalado, and he made a beautiful cross into the box,” Sanyaolu said. “Then Jared Castro was there to head it in. It was a perfect training ground move that actually worked.”
Sanyaolu said the goal looked similar to many that the Warriors have put into the net in practice.
“We have focused a lot on having width and being able to use our wings,” he said. “We have done it a lot in practice and it was just cool to see that come to fruition during the game.”
The Del Norte lead did not last long, however, as the Tigers answered right back with a goal of their own just two minutes later.
“The equalizer came pretty quickly. We were still basking in the glory of taking a 1-0 lead and we were on level terms again,” Sanyaolu said. “When play resumed after the goal we just had a lapse in concentration. We had a heavy touch just outside our circle and we thought that there was a foul, but the referee didn’t call it. So the opposition had a head start and just beat our last player and placed the ball to the right hand side of the goal.”
The game went into halftime tied at 1-1 and remained that way throughout the second half. But Del Norte looked to be in strong position to retake the lead for much of the second half.
Sanyaolu said he has been working a lot with his team on moving the ball quickly into their opponents’ territory and pressuring its defense. Although he said there is still plenty of work to be done in that aspect, the Warriors got off to a strong start.
“It is still a work in progress, but I saw it in play,” Sanyaolu said. “For us to be in Arcata’s half for most of the second half says a lot about our offense. I am seeing us taking initiative in the attacking third and not having to revert back when things are not going well. I saw a little bit of it, but it is still a work in progress that I would like us to improve on.”
Del Norte is scheduled to be back in action today, taking on McKinleyville. The Warriors will host the Panthers in Crescent City starting at about 1 p.m., following the girls soccer game.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .