On Tuesday, January 24th, the Pacific Grove Breakers took on the York Falcons at Breaker Stadium in their fourth league game of the season. PG was hot off their first win of the season the previous Thursday – a 7-1 rout of Trinity Christian.
In his pregame speech, Coach Nicholas Lackey stressed the necessity of putting the game away early, emphasizing that doing so would open up the field and allow Pacific Grove to build possession and dictate the tempo. “A goal within the first fifteen minutes, in any way possible” was Coach Lackey’s final direction to the starting lineup moments before kickoff.
The Breakers did not disappoint, scoring not once, but twice within the opening fifteen. The opener came in the 7th minute, when Eric Santos won the ball in the midfield and slotted the ball to winger Shey Gibson along the right-hand flank. Gibson then slid the ball back across the center of the box, finding sophomore striker Jake Haney who put the ball past the out of position goalkeeper, making the score 1-0.
Just eight minutes later, a corner kick from Robertson Rice nearly curved directly into the goal, forcing York’s goalkeeper to make a spectacular save. The subsequent corner from Rice zipped across the face of goal, finding Eric Santos at the back post, who headed the ball home to double the score.
The Breakers pushed hard for the remainder of the first half but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances. Defensive midfielder Nadi Nader dominated possession in the center of the field, shutting down the Falcons’ attack and sending numerous balls down the flanks to wingers Zach Goodwin and Jackson Schoolmeester, both of whom sent in a multitude of crosses, creating chances that very nearly resulted in more goals for the Breakers. However, PG entered the break up only 2-0.
But it did not take long for the Breakers to reestablish their rhythm in the second half. Just two minutes in, a ball over the top from Shey Gibson was volleyed into the net by Robertson Rice. The goal was originally called offsides, but after conferring, the referees decided that a deflection off York as the ball was played over the top allowed Rice’s goal to stand. The spectacular volley gave the Breakers a 3-0 lead.
The Breakers were not done for the day. In the 58th minute, a defensive clearance by Myles Kerchner allowed the Breakers to attack on the counter with numbers. Robertson Rice charged down the left side of the field before sending a cross into the box where Jake Haney, Jackson Schoolmeester and Zach Goodwin were all crashing. It was Schoolmeester who eventually got his foot on the ball, poking the cross into the bottom right hand corner to extend the Breakers’ lead to 4-0. The goal completed a phenomenal performance by freshman Robertson Rice, who finished the day with a goal and two assists.
The Breakers found themselves in a similar position as in the first half, continuing to create chances for the remaining twenty-two minutes but failing to convert any of them. One cross from Zach Goodwin found the feet of Matt Perlstein in the box, but Perlstein was unable to settle the ball in time in order to get off a good shot. On another occasion, central midfielder Caelum Kim-Sanders ripped a shot from the top of the box only to have it just barely tipped wide by the goalkeeper. Gibson and Rice also remained dangerous, hitting several crosses and shots. Nadi Nader, like in the first half, shut down York’s central midfield, allowing him to kickstart new possessions for the Breakers and act as an offensive catalyst.
The best opportunity for York came in the 75th minute when a free kick from just outside the eighteen clanged off the right post. The Falcons in total registered four or five shots on target, but goalkeepers Thomas Pontarolo and Yoni Chajmovic combined to give the Breakers their first clean sheet of the season. The Breakers’ back four – comprised of Lucas Melac, Sergi Rodas-Mendoza, Myles Kerchner, and Parker McAnally – also deserve credit for their success in holding back the York attack.
Next up for the Breakers is a home game against Anzar High School on Friday, January 27th, 4:00 pm at Breaker Stadium.