On Feb. 13, the boys soccer team (11-6-1 overall, 8-3-1 Peninsula Athletic League) defeated Sequoia (4-14-0 overall, 2-10-0 PAL) 3-1 behind two goals by senior captain and defender Anthony Sandoval.
The outcome for the Dons didn’t look too promising after Sequoia senior midfielder Ulises Morales scored a goal off of Aragon goalie Nathan Machak’s deflection just two minutes after kickoff.
However, Machak wasn’t worried, saying, “I knew we could come back.”
The Dons’ comeback effort began just six minutes after Morales’ goal. Aragon’s attack won a penalty kick, which was buried into the right corner by senior midfielder Liam Laird.
With the score now tied, the Dons’ momentum continued as Sandoval’s exceptional performance began. Starting at forward instead of his usual position of center defender, Sandoval scored his first of two goals in the game in the 12th minute. His changes of direction beat the Sequoia defense through the middle, and a hard shot around the right side of the goalie secured the goal.
Aragon head coach Greg Markoulakis appreciated Sandoval’s energy and intelligence on the field: “[His] running and movement without the ball [was critical]. It was very insightful. And because he’s usually a center back, and he marks so many good forwards, he has an understanding of the diagonality of the runs and how to bend the run at the right time and how to play off a defender.”
With the score now 2-1, the Dons continued to hold possession and create attacks, helping senior Dakota Severson to have two shots on goal within 10 minutes, as well as junior Josh Pearlman taking a shot from midfield. The first half ended with Machak holding his breath as a Sequoia free kick taken at the edge of the 18-yard box bounced around near the goal, but was eventually cleared out by senior defender Oscar Romero.
The Dons finished the half eight shots and two goals compared to Sequoia’s five shots and one goal.
The second half started off with another quick goal, but this time it came from the red and black.
Sandoval beat two defenders down the right sideline, and slotted the ball into the left corner to make the score 3-1.
Although this ended up being the final score of the game, Sequoia’s attacks in the 25th minute of the second half could have changed that. After Aragon senior midfielder Ricky Diaz received a yellow card and was consequently subbed out, the Cherokee offense emerged in the second half. In the first seven minutes of the half, Sequoia had two shots on goal as well as a free kick, but was unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
However, a few key saves from Machak and tough defense from the Dons allowed Aragon to regain control and generate more attacks. With 13 shots in the second half, nine of which came from Sandoval, in comparison to Sequoia’s eight shots, the Dons still looked much more threatening.
“[In the] first half, we were lacking,” explains Sandoval, “And the second half, Coach [Markoulakis] talked to us and gave us that desire to score.”
Despite the win, Markoulakis was still disappointed with his team’s performance, saying, “We weren’t consistent in our efforts on the field today. [We] knew [we] had the game, [we] knew [we] were more talented than the other team, and [we] took it for granted.”
Even though it might not have been the Dons’ best performance, with the help of Sandoval, they still were able to secure the win.
The team is set to travel to Menlo-Atherton to take on the Bears (6-7-4 overall, 6-6-1 PAL) on Feb. 15 before hosting Burlingame (6-7-0 overall, 4-5-0 PAL) in their season finale on Feb. 17.