The Del Norte boys soccer team continued its impressive run through the regular season on Saturday, picking up a 3-0 win in McKinleyville in a game the Warriors controlled from start to finish.
“It was a commendable performance,” said Del Norte head coach David Sanyaolu. “We played very well and we were in control from start to finish. We were never really threatened. As has become the norm in most of our games this year, our goalkeeper wasn’t really tested at all.”
The Warriors were able to use their advantage in possession to pressure the Panther goal for most of the game. Del Norte broke through with two goals in the first half and added a third goal midway through the second half to put the game away.
“I have always told the boys to make your possession and your dominance count — it is goals that speak,” Sanyaolu said. “We got three good goals today, so it was just a good performance overall. I feel that my boys’ confidence is improving match by match and we are reaching our peak level. The boys are starting to realize that something good comes out of playing good soccer and doing the basic things right.”
Del Norte took the lead a little bit before the midway point of the first half. Jose Regalado took a corner kick for the Warriors, and Chase Gardner put his head on the ball and directed it into the goal for his third score in the last two games.
A few minutes before halftime Del Norte struck again. Sanyaolu said he substituted in Adrian Chaves on the left wing, hoping to make use of his speed.
The substitution paid dividends almost immediately when Daniel Bertelson found Chaves with a long pass from the midfield.
“He wasn’t on the field for more than three minutes and he got a goal,” Sanyaolu said. “Daniel made a true pass from the midfield. Adrian cut in and got the ball, then used his speed to get behind a defender. Then he made a cutting dribble in the box and shot it into the bottom left corner of the goal.”
Although Sanyaolu was happy with the team’s performance in the first half, he said he was hoping to get at least one more goal in the final 40 minutes to put the game away.
“3-0 is my ideal score,” Sanyaolu said. “When it is 2-0 and they score on you then you are going to start panicking, because any mistake could tie the game. But when you get ahead 3-0 you can kind of relax. So I really wanted to get a third goal, and we got it.”
The Warriors last strike came in the 64th minute when Bertelsen sent another nice pass from the midfield to the left wing. This time Bertelsen connected with Santiago Montanez on the left side of the box and Montanez got off a quick hard shot with his left leg that beat the Panthers keeper.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Sanyaolu said. “It was just a straight pass from midfield — one touch, and a shot. That kind of sealed the game up.”
With the win, Del Norte improves to 8-0-2 overall this season, which is likely the Warriors’ best start to a season in school history.
“I am proud of the boys for what they have achieved this year,” Sanyaolu said. “I am just looking forward to some other highs that we can still achieve this year.”
Del Norte is scheduled to be back in action on Wednesday in what will be the Warriors’ biggest game so far this year. Del Norte will host Fortuna following the girls game at about 5:30 p.m. in a battle of the Humboldt-Del Norte League’s last two undefeated teams. Fortuna, which has won the last two HDN boys soccer championships in a row, is currently 10-0 in league games and 14-1-1 overall this year.
Fortuna is also currently the No. 2 team in the North Coast Section Division I according to maxpreps.com’s playoff prediction model. Del Norte is currently ranked fourth in the NCS.
“It is a very important game,” Sanyaolu said. “I don’t want them to put too much pressure on themselves, but I want us to go into the game with the belief that we can win. If the game doesn’t go our way it doesn’t undermine our season though. As I have said before, Fortuna is kind of the ideal that we want to reach and go beyond. We are going to give it a shot. Hopefully we can just play our game, take our chances, defend well and see what happens.”
Del Norte’s game on Wednesday is also the last home game of the regular season for the Warriors. Both the boys and girls soccer teams are planning on recognizing the seniors on their rosters as part of the Senior Night festivities.