PACIFIC GROVE – Entering the regular season, hopes were high for Breakers’ boys soccer. But in the opening two games of the campaign, the team failed to perform. On Tuesday, January 10th, the Breakers traveled to Morgan Hill to face Oakwood High School. The abysmal game – characterized by pouring rain, extreme wind, and bone-chilling cold – ended in a 6-0 loss for the Breakers despite the two teams looking equal on paper. Two days later, Pacific Grove faced Pacific Collegiate in Santa Cruz and, despite looking much improved, lost the game 2-0.
Going into the first home game of the season (Thursday, January 19th), the Breakers were determined to finally find their footing against Trinity Christian High School, hoping to put a pre-season behind them that had seen them win no games, score no goals at home, and score just three goals away.
The Breakers did not disappoint. Right from the opening kick off, PG dominated the tempo, with Eric Santos, Caelum Kim-Sanders, and Nadi Nader all registering early shots (Nader’s shot blistered just inches past the right post).The first goal came in the 13th minute, when a corner kick from Robertson Rice bobbled across the face of goal before being poked in by co-captain Lucas Melac. The goal sent Pacific Grove into the lead for the first time all season.
Minutes later, PG nearly doubled their lead, when Matt Perlstein dribbled down the left wing before crossing it into the box for Caelum Kim-Sanders, who played a smart backheel flick right to the feet of winger Zach Goodwin. Goodwin, however, was only able to blast the ball into the goalkeeper’s chest, who had charged out to close the angle.
The Breakers finally did double their lead in the 27th minute, when Lucas Melac played a long ball to central midfielder Eric Santos at the top of the eighteen. Santos calmly chipped the ball over Trinity’s goalkeeper, clinging it off the bottom of the crossbar for perhaps the game’s best goal.
Despite continued pressure, the Breakers were unable to extend their lead before the end of the first 40 minutes, and went into halftime up 2-0.
Any fears that the Breakers might take their foot off the gas quickly evaporated early in the second half, when in the 43rd minute a defensive clearance fell to right back Lucas Melac, who slammed the ball low and hard into the bottom corner from distance, giving the senior his second goal of the game.
Just six minutes later, the Breakers were back on the attack. The ball found the feet of striker Jake Haney, who turned to his right and played the ball to Robertson Rice just yards in front of goal. Rice coolly slipped the ball along the ground into the opposite bottom corner, giving the freshman his first varsity goal.. Within ten minutes of the second half, the Breakers had extended their lead to 4-0.
For the next ten minutes, Trinity looked the better of the two teams, finally appearing to find some rhythm as they threatened the back line and forced goalkeeper Thomas Pontarolo to make a series of saves. However, in the 60th minute, PG scored once again to put themselves back in control. Winger Zach Goodwin played a ball to Jake Haney on the right hand side of the box, who then squared the ball back towards the penalty spot to wide-open Eric Santos. Santos buried the opportunity for his second goal of the game, and in the process gave Haney his second assist on the day.
The Breakers continued to attack ferociously, with Myles Kerchner, Nadi Nader and Caelum Kim-Sanders controlling the central midfield. Kim-Sanders had one especially spectacular run, where he dribbled the near full length of the field, beating at least five defenders before ripping the shot. Trinity’s goalkeeper was forced to make a spectacular save to prevent the ball from going into the net. Wingers Zach Goodwin and Shey Gibson also contributed offensively, sending in several crosses to Haney and Kerchner that were very nearly finished off.
But it took until the 73rd minute for PG to find the back of the net once again. It came when Kim-Sanders won the ball in the midfield after a Trinity defensive clearance. Kim-Sanders then slid the ball to his left to Matt Perlstein, who hit the ball first-time from just outside the eighteen. The goalkeeper managed to get a hand on the ball but ultimately could not keep it from ending up in the goal.
In the final two minutes of the game, Trinity pressed hard for a goal and were eventually rewarded. Catching the Breakers on a counterattack, the Warriors pressed forward with numbers and were able to slip in a shot from the right hand side of the box, just barely beating freshman goalkeeper Yoni Chajmovic.
It was the Breakers who would have the last laugh however, as just seconds later a cross-field ball from defensive midfielder Nadi Nader found winger Shey Gibson in the box. Gibson calmly controlled the cross before slotting it into the bottom left corner. The final whistle just moments later finalized the Breakers’ first win in more than nine games, and was met by cheers from players, coaches, and fans.
Next up for the Breakers is a game Tuesday, January 24th at York High School. PG hopes to maintain their momentum and turn around their season in order to challenge for the Coastal League Championship title.