The Dalles The Dalles Wahtonka goalkeeper Bryan Sanchez made 12 saves including a penalty kick stop, but it was not enough as Mac-Hi came back from a 1-0 first-half deficit and Christian Torres scored the eventual game-winning goal at the 70th minute to lead the visiting Pioneers to a 2-1 road victory Tuesday in varsity soccer play in The Dalles.
“Bryan did a great job at goalie,” said senior midfielder Julian Gutierrez. “I feel bad that he played so good and we could not do enough to get him a win. It is frustrating because I thought we played good. Mac-Hi played good. They are a tough team. We just let down a little in the second half.”
Things started out on a positive note for TDW with Christian Garcia hitting the back of the net for goal just 10 minutes into action.
The senior speedster got on horses after taking a pass from Aldo Rivas and made a quick move before whistling a hard shot past Pioneer keeper Moises Manon.
A little more than 20 minutes later, Mac-Hi’s Gerardo Robles retrieved a pass from Sergio Alvarez and put his shot past T-Dub’s Sanchez to tie the score at 1-apiece. Both teams ran off at halftime in a 1-1 deadlock with 40 minutes to try to score the winner.
In the second half, Mac-Hi took control with several opportunities to score goals, but Sanchez was on task to hold off any rallies.
Midway through the second stanza, TDW had one of its best chances to score, as Antonio Morales found himself open inside the penalty area.
After a quick turn, he blasted a shot from 20 yards away, but his shot sailed less than a foot over the crossbar and out of bounds.
Unfortunately for the Tribe and Sanchez, Mac-Hi wing Alberto Herrera had control of the ball from 30 yards out and spotted a streaking Torres. Herrera lofted a soft pass and Torres slipped past his defender and headed in a goal past a sprawling Sanchez for the goal.
Mac-Hi had eight corner kicks to TDW’s two, and the Pioneers were whistled for 17 fouls. TDW had seven.
“We played The Dalles before and they are always a tough team for us to play against,” said Manon. “We respect The Dalles. They play good soccer and make us better. We need to play good teams to get us better. The Dalles did that for us.”
Through three matches, TDW has scored five goals and allowed seven, so the goals are coming at a better rate, just coach Luis Gamez wants his team to improve in several different phases.
With some lingering injuries and a lack of numbers, it has made mixing and matching players into roles on the field.
“It has been tough for us to find players to fit in their role, but we are doing all we can to put the right people in a spot to be successful,” Gamez said. “I think we will find the right players, but it might take time.”
After the match, the mood varied from frustrated to disappointed and upset.
Even in his first career varsity match as a senior, Gutierrez is on cue with the pulse of the team.
Instead of passing blame and bringing a negative vibe to the locker room, he wants to see more solidarity in this time of trial.
“We have to play like a team and not get down on each other. That is not the way we should do things,” Gutierrez said. “Good teams find a way to make it work out. We can’t let some losses get us down. We need to be even stronger.”
Gamez looks at his roster and the level of talent on display at forward, midfield and defense and sees a team that can win matches.
He feels good about the prospects, but emphasized that it is up to the players to believe they can score more goals and play better soccer to make a deep playoff run.
“I can do everything and tell them everything, but it is up to the boys to believe in themselves and each other,” Gamez said. “We need to stay positive and motivate each other and stay together. I think if we can settle that in our heads, who knows how good we can really be. I hope that we can take that mindset soon.”
TDW (0-2-1 overall) heads to St. Helens for another non-league match at 4 p.m. Thursday.