Charlie Galvan scored for the third game in four Vine Valley Athletic League outings with six minutes left as the Vintage High boys soccer team took a two-goal lead and held off Napa, 2-1, in the first of two Big Games this season Thursday night at Memorial Stadium.
Eric Reis scored during first-half stoppage time for a 1-0 halftime lead on a corner kick by Sergio Hernandez, who had both assists for the Crushers (9-2-2, 4-0 VVAL).
“That was Sergio’s first game back after three weeks at least. He’s kinda been having some hamstring issues,” Vintage co-coach Javier Covarrubias said of the junior.
Hernandez flicked the ball to Galvan, who launched a shot into the right side of the north goal for a 2-0 lead with the clock showing six minutes left.
There was actually about 10 minutes left, plenty of time for the Grizzlies (3-6-3, 1-2 VVAL) to get a few more shots at their crosstown rivals.
Dayron Solis got pushed from behind in the box and earned a penalty kick, which he made by slicing it to the left of Vintage goalkeeper Cadel Newton-Kotch as the Crusher dove the other way.
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With what ended up being one minute left, Napa’s Eric Aguilar drilled a 40-yard free kick that a teammate just missed relaying inside the right post.
Napa head coach Rafael Ayala said his all-senior back line of captains Marcus Delgado and Solis, and Joseph Dowling and Isai Mata, and junior goalkeeper Gabriel Orozco did a good job defensively.
“We try to be really good on defense year in and year out,” Ayala said. “Gabriel is a phenomenal goalie. He has a high soccer IQ.
"We're right there. It's a completely different group (than in the spring) and they're trying to find their way. They will. We'll find a way. If we get into the playoffs, we'll be a scary team."
Vintage hasn’t had any games postponed or even rescheduled yet, the only team in the Valley that can say that.
“Yeah, we’ve been really careful,” Galvan said. “All of our activities are outdoors.”
Galvan was asked if the Crushers’ 4-0 start in league was surprising.
”No, not really,” he said, “because we’ve been playing together a lot and I just think that we work together very well.”
It was the fifth game in 13 outings this season that the Cardiac Crushers have won by a single goal. Covarrubias doesn’t want them to get in a habit of it. He’d like to see more goals earlier in games.
“We’ve been trying to work on that attacking third, trying to get numbers in the box,” he said. “We’re a team that’s able to build and get to that attacking third, but it just kinda stops there. We don’t get that last pass or that last touch. That’s something we’ve been trying to work on in training so we don’t get into these situations where we’re in these close games.
“Hopefully we’ll starting putting opponents away early. When you play tough teams like Napa High, they’re going to stick around, they’re going to play you tough. They’re going to be sticking around, sticking around, sticking around like they did tonight.”
Covarrubias acknowledge that waiting until stoppage time to score does make the game more exciting for the fans, as if a Big Game could be.
“I think it’s just the emotions of both teams. Both teams are high-energy, competitive teams,” he said. “The boys (on opposing teams) play with each other, they know each other, they want to come out on top, so Napa High is always going to give us a tough fight, our boys are going to put up a tough fight, so it comes down to those last few minutes where a team gets a goal to win the game or a team makes it close and that gives you one of those nerve-wracking finishes.
“Mentally they get tired and physically they’re drained. They start cramping up. We saw Axel (Clark, one of Napa High’s top scorers) and some of our boys cramping up. They want to leave it all on the field and, oh boy, they do.”
The Crushers next play a nonleague home game against Montgomery (5-2-3) at 6 p.m. Tuesday. It’s a VVAL bye night for Vintage.
The Panthers won North Coast Section and Northern California Division I titles in 2019-20, when they finished 26-0-1.
“They’ve been a very good, competitive team the last two years we’ve played them,” Covarrubias said. “They’re coached very well. Teams like that — Napa High, Berkeley, Montgomery, California — are teams that when we get to that phase III, the playoffs, are the kinds of teams we’re going to play.”
Vintage 2, Napa 1
Christian Corona assisted Hugo Contreras for a 1-0 halftime lead for the Crushers (2-0-1 VVAL). Jose Ramirez assisted on their second one Felix McCleod headed in a cleared corner kick with about 15 minutes left.