On Thursday, the PGHS Breaker Boys Soccer Team wrapped up a long and arduous seven game pre-season campaign. Head Coach Nicholas Lackey, aiming to give his players exposure to some of the area’s best teams and their styles of play, scheduled the Breakers against many teams several divisions higher than Pacific Grove. Despite not taking home any wins, the Breakers know what they need to do to improve as they hope to challenge for the MTAL Coastal League Title once the regular season begins.
The Breakers opened their preseason against Palma on November 28th. Despite losing the game 5-0, the game was a good benchmark for the Breakers. Just two days later, the Breakers hosted their first home game against Marina, losing 3-0, a significant improvement from their 5-0 loss to the Mariners last season. The next day, the Breakers finished off the week against Northgate High School of Walnut Creek, one of the best teams in the region. The Broncos gave the Breakers a thorough 7-0 thumping, but the game allowed the Breakers to test out a number of new players and formations as PG continued searching for a consistent lineup.
The following Tuesday (12/6), the Breakers played a highly competitive game against local rivals, The Robert Louis Stevenson School. The Pirates, to the dismay of Pacific Grove, gained an advantage early on after a Breaker own goal in the opening minutes. Stevenson then doubled that lead off a set piece towards the middle of the first 40 minutes. The Breakers, seeking vengeance, came out much stronger in the second half, pressing the Stevenson defense. Around the 50th minute, a ball from co-captain Myles Kerchner found Jake Haney in the top left corner of the field. Haney capitalized on an RLS defensive miscommunication, sliding the ball into an open net for the Breakers’ first goal of the season. The Breakers fought hard for the rest of the second half, dominating the tempo as they pushed for an equalizer, but failed to find one. The Pirates scored again in the dying moments of the game to make the final score 3-1.
Pacific Grove followed up their clash against Stevenson with a game at home against the Seaside Spartans. Despite the 3-0 result, the game was competitive, and saw Aeden Roland gain his first start as varsity goalkeeper – an impressive accomplishment for a freshman. The next day, the Breakers traveled to Soquel. Down only 1-0 at the half, the Breakers looked competitive, with Eric Santos, Jake Haney, and Immad Burhani all registering shots on target. However, PG fell apart in the second half, losing the game 4-0.
For the last game of the preseason, the Breakers traveled to North Monterey County (12/13) – a game in which the team’s seniors shined. With co-captain Lucas Melac out sick, co-captain Myles Kerchner and senior Nadi Nader held down the back line, registering countless clearances and saves. The Breakers also found the back of the net – not once, but twice – with senior Zach Goodwin being the main offensive catalyst. The Breakers’ first goal came in the 65th minute, after sophomore Caelum Kim-Sanders stole the ball in the midfield and began charging down the left hand side of the field. Kim-Sanders then slid the ball across the top of the box, finding Goodwin, who was then able to loft the ball past the goalkeeper into the top corner. Goodwin made his presence felt again just minutes later, winning a penalty after colliding with several North Monterey County defenders in the box. Immad Burhani buried the resulting spot-kick, giving the Breakers their first two goal performance of the season. The game finished in NMC’s favor, 8-2. However, factoring out two soft penalty decisions given to the Condors early in the first half, and two unforced goalkeeper errors, a 4-2 result would have been a fairer summary of the game.
For several years, Pacific Grove boys soccer has struggled to find a winning combination. Last season the Breakers finished with just one win, one tie, and fourteen losses. But this year, with a fast and physical style of play, a number of promising underclassmen, and a group of seniors looking to prove themselves after three years of failure, the Breakers look poised to put up a challenge during league play. For once, boys soccer at Pacific Grove is looking up.