By Dan Kidder
Athletes are often known for their superstitions, so when the calendar turned over into the year 2013, some teams were no doubt looking over their shoulders for any stray black cats.
Here in Valley Center, the varsity boys soccer team may not have any broken mirrors laying about, but the Jaguars were definitely sad to see 2012 come to a close.
The Jags were playing great soccer before the new year began, posting a 3–2–1 record through their final game of the year on Dec. 21.
But since 2013 began, the Jaguars just can’t seem to catch a break, as they have now lost five consecutive games, none by more than a two-goal deficit and the last three by only a single goal.
The latest loss came at home against Del Norte on Thursday night, as the Jags battled through a scoreless first half, then found the net early in the second half, only to have the Nighthawks come back with two late goals to steal the game, 2–1.
Valley Center head coach JD Dantas knows better than to think that his team walked under too many ladders recently.
“We just need to score,” he said of his team’s recent skid in the standings. “We’re getting opportunities to score, but we’re just not finding the net.”
In Thursday’s game, the Jaguars were strong on defense through a first half that saw Del Norte consistently on the attack. Valley Center’s chances came, by and large, on the counter-attack, but the Jags couldn’t connect on their final passes and watched their chances slip away.
But in the second half, the Jaguars began to control the ball and find the passing lanes that were closed in the first half. On a fast break with just over ten minutes gone in the second half, Stefano Da Silva corralled a long pass as he streaked down the right-hand side of the field, took a shot from 20 yards away and knocked the ball in off the far post to open the scoring.
The Nighthawks responded with a push into the offensive zone, and only seven minutes later, they answered with a goal of their own. The score came off a corner kick that got past Valley Center keeper Gavin Marcon and made it to the far post, where a simple deflection put the ball in the back of the open net.
Del Norte still controlled the ball consistently and limited Valley Center’s chances in the middle of the field. The pressure on the Jaguar defense eventually led to another goal, this one coming off a throw-in from the corner that bounced off two Del Norte heads before landing at the feet of a shooter who easily tapped in the goal.
Valley Center had some chances to even the score late in the game, most dramatically with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. After a Jaguar throw in and a high ball that the Nighthawks attempted to clear, Da Silva took a shot on the volley from about 20 yards away, only to have the ball ricochet off the post and roll harmlessly away.
“We had several breakdowns on the defensive end,” Coach Dantas said of the two goals scored by Del Norte. “We were a little more aggressive, and we got out of our game plan, which was to play with patience and hold tight on defense.”
The Jaguars will look to get back in the win column in their next game, which comes at Ramona on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.