Luie Garcia’s dive was perfect. Or so everyone thought.
With 28 minutes remaining in the second half of a scoreless game, Aragon Dons forward Zane Stokesberry lined in a penalty kick to Garcia’s right-hand side. The Dons were given the kick after a Cougar defender fouled Stokesberry inside the penalty box.
Half Moon Bay’s senior goalkeeper timed the block correctly, leaping to his right and knocking the ball out of bounds. As the crowd erupted in cheers and his teammates gathered around him, the referee blew his whistle to signal a re-kick. The reason: Garcia’s feet were not aligned with the goal line.
On the second attempt, it was Epigmenio Rodriguez who found the back of the net when his shot went right and Garcia dived to his right.
That one goal proved to be the difference as Half Moon Bay High School (0-3-2) fell to Aragon High School (2-2-3) on Friday evening. Aside from the second penalty kick, Garcia played solid defense after he subbed in for Luis Evangelista to start the second half. Head coach Jeff Turgeon said he’s playing both students to find a clear starter.
Half Moon Bay is still looking for its first win this season in the ever-competitive Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division. Soccer has long been a popular sport at the high school, and with a large turnout for tryouts, Turgeon had to cut 10 student-athletes, a rarity for the program. There are 22 players on the roster.
Health has been an issue, as several players went down throughout the first five games. None of the injuries are considered season-ending. Center forward Oracio Bautista dislocated his finger during Friday’s game.
Nathan Freitas, a freshman, was a standout on offense on Friday, routinely pushing the ball downfield and crossing it toward the middle to set up a shot.
“He did a sensational job,” Turgeon said of Freitas. “I brought two freshmen up this year to play varsity, which is unusual, but they have the heart, they’re good and I like the way they play.”
The spirited crowd was loud throughout the game, consistently trying to galvanize the Cougars and call out mistakes by the referees. Fans, at least, thought there were plenty. Late in the second half, Freitas was pushed in the back by a Dons defender inside the penalty box, but no foul was called.
The Cougars had their opportunities on offense, but couldn’t find anyone to seal the deal. It was either a ball led too far that went out of bounds, or a shot on goal that had the accuracy but not the timing or power behind it.
“The movement of the ball is great,” Turgeon said. “We just have to get more shots, and of course we have to finish.