Oh yes, it’s true — nothing takes away the bitter aftertaste of a sub-par performance in a soccer league opener like a draw.
Wait, a draw?
Yes, by listening to Carlmont and San Mateo head coaches Jodi Beloff and Chuck Callaghan after Wednesday’s wet 2-2 tie in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division action, you get the sense there was something bigger than just a win or a loss at stake.
"We came off a loss on Monday to Menlo-Atherton and it was a totally different game today,” Beloff said. "[We] played well, [we] played much better than we played on Monday. That’s what I’m most proud of — that we bounced back from that loss and they were able to come out and play soccer like they know how to.”
"I was proud of the guys,” Callaghan said. "I liked the way we played. We played much better than we played against Hillsdale (a 1-1 draw). The effort was better. The ball control was better. The ball movement was better. We had a lot of opportunities.”
Both teams had their fair share of chances in a game where the weather, the goalkeepers’ hands and their ability to limit rebound opportunities was a factor. At the end of the 80 minutes though, despite the outside factors, the teams demonstrated why they’re both in the conversation for the best in the league.
The Bearcats had to bounce back from one-goal deficits twice in the game to salvage the draw — their second in two games.
Ryan Onizuka was Wednesday’s hero in the 70th minute when a ball put on net by Alejandro Mendoza leaked over to him some 15 yards out and No. 9 rifled a shot that deflected off of a body in the penalty box and found the back of the net for the equalizer.
"I really felt they would come back,” Callaghan said of his team. "And I actually thought we would get that third goal. We had a ball go off the bar but I thought we attacked them pretty well.”
"San Mateo is absolutely going to be a force to contend with this year,” Beloff said. "So yeah, I expected a good game and it was played well by both sides.”
Carlmont struck first in the 12th minute after a Mitchell Jang header set Theo Fedronic loose on a breakaway chance that No. 16 executed to perfection, going to William Amaya’s left for goal number one of the match.
San Mateo responded four minutes later on a great Ezequiel Sandavol-Valerio cross that found Ricardo Molina’s head. No. 8’s initial header rung off the cross bar and took a fortunate bounce back to where Molina could get a head on it again — that time, the ball cross the goal line for the 1-1.
San Mateo had seven quality looks at goal in the first half to Carlmont’s three. But it was the Scots that retook the lead in the 56th minute on a short corner turned score by Ross Goffigon who turned chaos in the penalty box into a 2-1 goal.
"We made a mistake on that short corner,” Callaghan said. "We should have sent two guys out and that’s something we’ve gone over.”
San Mateo responded with a wave of offense and finally a Mendoza run down the left side and up the end line turned into a quality chance that Onizuka took full advantage of late in the game.
The tie leaves San Mateo with a 0-0-2 record while the Scots improve to 0-1-1.
When asked what her team would take from Wednesday’s game into the rematch later this year in game that should mean a lot into determining the league champion, Beloff smiled and said, "Oh, that’s a secret.”