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Richmond High boys soccer overcomes slow start, looks toward postseason

on January 31, 2015

Addison Escobar had never lined up at forward for Richmond High School before Thursday night. But when his coach, Rene Siles, asked the senior to move up from midfield, he didn’t ask questions.

“Wherever I play I put it in, a hundred percent, I give my all,” Escobar said. “Because the team comes first.”

Escobar’s goal just before halftime helped the Oilers overcome heavy legs en route to a comprehensive 5-0 win over Hercules Thursday night at Richmond High School. Alexis Montano chipped in two goals of his own, Santiago Llanes scored one, and Escobar struck again late in what turned out to be a true team effort.

The Oilers started off strong with a goal by Montano within the first ten minutes to give the home side some breathing space early. But the well-organized Hercules defense kept Richmond at bay for much of the half despite the home side dominating possession and shots attempted.

Lingering fatigue from a difficult win at Albany High School two days prior forced coach Siles to curtail Richmond’s trademark pressure in the opponent’s side of the field. Several fizzing shots from long-range flew just wide of the goal, hit the post, or were smothered by an impressive Hercules goalkeeper.

“We had lots of chances, but we could not put them in,” Siles said. “But we did not get frustrated.”

Seconds before the halftime whistle, Richmond broke through. Receiving a pass on the right wing, Montano quickly shifted the ball from his right foot to his left and burst past a defender. He slipped a short pass forward to midfielder Osvaldo Sandoval, who found Escobar streaking into the penalty box. Escobar’s low, hard shot across the face of goal beat the Hercules goalkeeper to give Richmond a 2-0 lead and momentum heading into the halftime break.

The Oilers came out in the second half controlling possession. Fifteen minutes in, junior Santiago Llanes headed a cross into the upper right corner of the Hercules net to give Richmond a 3-0 lead. With ten minutes left to play, Montano pounced on a rebound off a long-range effort to make it 4-0. Escobar completed the score line with a hard-driven shot from 10 yards out to finish a series of well-worked passes with five minutes left to play. Siles also complimented the play of freshman defender Luis Serrano and senior Roberto Rios.

The victory pushed Richmond (15-3-1) to 10-0 in Tri-Valley County play with two games left before the postseason begins.

First up is a non-league matchup with Monte Vista High School of Danville at 4 p.m. Saturday at home. The Oilers then take to the road the following Saturday to battle powerhouse De La Salle High School (10-3-3) in Concord.

Those two games “are going to prepare us. Those are very good teams, both,” Siles said. “And we’re going to have about five, six days where we can train [before the playoffs], we have no games. We need to correct a few things, offensively and defensively.”

With the end of his Richmond career in sight, Escobar looked toward the postseason with a mixture of giddiness and angst. “Man, it’s just, you know that feeling? I get that feeling, the team, it’s just the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “Knowing that this is my last year, and it’s just so close to ending, I wish I could just keep playing for Richmond High. Hopefully we’ll make it to [North Coast Section] playoffs, league playoffs, really excited for everything. We’re going out. We’re going out for everything. And we’re taking this this year.”

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