The Mendocino Soccer Academy Eagles Under-19 boys soccer team entered last weekend’s pair of games as the 112th ranked club soccer team in California. After pulling out a pair of hard fought draws over the weekend, the Eagles will likely receive a nice bump in their state rankings as they prepare to wrap up NorCal Premier Fall League play this weekend.
The Eagles (4-2-0) traveled down to Santa Rosa last weekend, Nov. 3 and 4, for a pair of matches against both the 26th ranked team in the state, Santa Rosa United (Nov. 3), and the 18th ranked team in the state, Atletico Santa Rosa (Nov. 4). The Eagles forced a 3-3 draw against United (4-1-3) and ground to a 0-0 tie against Atletico (5-2-0), maintaining their third-place standing in league.
The Eagles took an early 1-0 lead in their match against United after Benicio Benavides-Garb, a senior from McKinleyville High, found the net on a free kick in the first half. Sergio Marquez gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half on a goal assisted by Caleb Coke. United, not to be beaten so easily, rebounded from its slow start and scored twice to tie the game at 2-2.
The game stayed knotted at 2-2 for the rest of regulation time as both teams tightened up defensively. United found the net again one minute into what would end up being nearly seven minutes of stoppage time, to take a 3-2 lead. The Eagles, however, were able to add a tying goal a minute after United’s and the match ended in a 3-3 draw. The game-saving goal was scored by Arcata High senior Andy Miranda and assisted by Marquez, a sophomore from Fortuna High.
The Eagles’ match against Atletico was all defense as neither team was able to break through. The match, and the weekend, however, will go down as a success for the Eagles as they drew even with a pair of highly accomplished teams.
The Eagles’ assistant coach, Tim Olson, said as much.
“To pull out a pair of draws against those teams was a huge deal for us,” Olson said. ” I couldn’t be more proud of these boys.”
The Eagles will wrap up NorCal league play this weekend with a matches against Richmond (0-0-5) on Saturday and NorCal league top-dog, Marin FC (6-1-0) on Sunday.
If the Eagles win both matches this weekend and a few other teams lose their final games, the Eagles could finish league play as the top team in their league. At the very least, the Eagles have assured themselves a winning record in league.