Boys soccer ties Santa Clara in extremely close game

The Los Altos High School varsity boys soccer team tied against Santa Clara High School last Friday, January 27 in a nail-biting 1–1 finish. With a draw, the Eagles prevented Santa Clara from moving to first place in the league rankings, and kept themselves in contention to qualify for CCS.

“It was very intense,” senior Captain Zaid Issa said. “We were missing a few players, but that’s not really an excuse. We could’ve put it away, but in the end we need to take our chances and work as a team. Overall though, I think we played well.”

The game started off as anyone’s match, but the tide seemed to shift 20 minutes in when a Santa Clara striker was able to break through the Los Altos defense and take a shot. The shot was blocked by a clean Los Altos slide tackle, but the Bruin player headed the deflected ball into the goal to put the Eagles down a point.

“The unfortunate goal against us put us in some sort of pressure situation,” Head Coach Roberto Magellan said. “We already knew we had to play as if we were losing by a goal because we wanted to keep the momentum going.”

Following the goal, the ball stayed mostly in the midfield despite both sides having a couple of chances to attack. Los Altos seemed to be making more opportunities, but as they were down on the scoreboard, the timing of some shots seemed either a little too early or a little too late, leading to many shots either missing or being saved by the goalie.

“We had a lot of opportunities to score,” junior Chris Bae said. “We were able to move the ball around better than in our other games and get shots on goal, but us not finishing led us to drawing.”

As the clock ticked down, the Bruins came closer and closer to victory. But this lead would end eight minutes from stoppage time, after a free kick from senior Javier Lores. The Eagles won the ball and passed it to Zaid, who promptly dribbled through three Bruin defenders to shoot and score the equalizing point.

“Scoring felt pretty good,” Zaid said. “We shouldn’t have been down in the first place but it felt great. It’s a bummer we didn’t get another one but it’s always fun to score at home.”

The goal rejuvenated the Eagles, who kept on the pressure on the Bruins and managed to keep the ball almost exclusively on Santa Clara’s side of the field. A chance for Los Altos to get a winning point seemed imminent when Zaid won the ball from a Bruin defender and passed it up to senior Samuel Bryan, who along with the rest of the Eagle offense outnumbered the Bruin defenders.

However, as Zaid had sprinted to get the ball, the Santa Clara player was cleanly knocked down in the steal. When Zaid went to help him up, the Santa Clara player pushed and then punched Zaid, which led to the referee stopping the advantageous play for Los Altos to give a card to the player. At first, it seemed like this would be an automatic red card, which would have put the Eagles a player up for the rest of the game. However, the referee was looking at the ball—which was up the field—and only saw the altercation out of the corner of his eye. After deliberation it was decided that the Santa Clara player would get only a yellow, which ended hopes for a Los Altos player advantage.

While the game ultimately ended in a tie, it could have ended a lot worse for the Eagles. The night’s Los Altos goalie, senior Rohan Chavan, made multiple saves throughout the game, which was made all the more impressive as he was the backup goalie and had only played in one game so far this season.

“It was a little scary at the beginning,” Rohan said. “I was nervous, especially since I haven’t played much this season. But after a little bit, I got into the groove and I felt fine.”

The team will go to Gunn High School to play the Titans this Friday, February 3 and with the last few games of the league season coming up, the Eagles aim to make CCS and get back to the top of the league. Currently, Mountain View is ranked first and Los Altos is second.

“This was the game to win, or at least tie,” Magellan said. “The result was better for us than for Santa Clara, because they would have passed us and gotten into first place, and put us in third place. We have to wait for the other teams and their results, but in terms of the points it was not a bad score.”

“Tonight we just had that resilience,” Rohan said. “We’re never really out of a game. Our attack is really great, our midfielders are really great, our defense is stellar. We are always able to build off of that and find ourselves in the game.”Boys soccer ties Santa Clara in extremely close game