A 2-1 road loss to De La Salle High School in Concord ended a 13-game unbeaten streak for the Richmond High boys’ soccer team on Saturday night, but the players and coaches viewed the match as an opportunity to build for the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
Early on in the season, the Oilers seemed to have trouble jelling and working together on the field. Coaches stressed the importance of playing as one, and players cited the fact that the team was young and inexperienced.
Senior captain Cesar Cardenas saw the match against De La Salle as a step in the right direction.
“Throughout the whole season, when we play against big teams we manage to keep it close and have a chance to win it,” Cardenas said. “With such a young team that is a positive, that means something.”
For co-head coach Rene Siles, the physicality of Saturday’s match also stuck out for him. “It was a very physical game,” Siles said over the phone on Tuesday morning. “Those games get really physical. And what they have, that we don’t have, is the physical side.”
One of the outcomes of the physical match was that junior Danny Ortega suffered a concussion. In addition to Ortega, junior Marvin Parra was also out with a concussion, which he suffered in last Thursday’s match against Albany.
Despite the injuries, Cardenas was impressed with his teammates ability to adapt and cover for each other.
“Everyone stepped up in that game,” said Cardenas after practice on Monday night. “It didn’t matter if you were young, or experienced at the time. Everybody from our back line to our forwards played an amazing half, and an amazing game in total.”
One of the young players, who Cardenas was impressed with was freshman Cristian Garcia. The midfielder scored his first goal of the season, and it gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead over De La Salle in the first half.
Garcia said he was surprised by his goal. “At first I couldn’t believe it, when I scored, I just stayed looking at the ball for three seconds,” he said. After seeing his teammates run over to him to celebrate, it dawned on him what had just happened. “I was really excited,” Garcia said.
Garcia was also battling injury problems; a hamstring injury kept him from playing the entire game on Saturday.
In the second half the Spartans scored twice and although the Oilers had multiple scoring opportunities, including a penalty kick, De La Salle held on for win.
The loss to De La Salle puts the Oilers’ overall record at 9-3-5. In league play the Oilers are still undefeated at 6-0-2.
“It was a very close game, and we can play with those guys anytime,” Siles said. “We would love to play them in the playoffs.”
With a win over Salesian High School tonight at 6 p.m. or St. Joseph’s High School on Thursday the Oilers will wrap up an automatic berth to the North Coast Section playoffs.
But before NCS begins, the Oilers will take part in a tournament for the Tri-County Athletic League title, which begins next week.