Aragon boys' soccer coach Greg Markoulakis said his team can play several different styles when it comes to scoring goals. Wednesday against host Mills, the Dons spent the first half trying to emulate the Vikings' style: namely, building up an attack through the midfield with a number of passes, getting the ball out to the wing and then swinging crosses into the penalty box.
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Aragon's Alex Mellado clears the ball away during the Dons' 2-0 win over Mills in Ocean Division action.
It didn't work too well for the Dons, despite the fact they held a 1-0 lead at halftime. In the second half, Markoulakis had the Dons do what they do best: direct attacks on the opposing goal. It worked to perfection as Aragon had a number of scoring chances in the final 40 minutes, including a breakaway goal as the Dons recorded a 2-0 win to remain unbeaten in Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division play.
"It's difficult (trying to play a different style) because the emotional and compositional makeup of the team dictates our attacking style,” Markoulakis said, whose team improved to 6-0-3 in Ocean Division play. "We tried the build up (in the first half) and it didn't work.”
Mills (4-2-3), on the other hand, did well with its work in the midfield and the Vikings controlled possession and the attack in the opening 40 minutes. The only thing lacking, however, was the finished product. The Vikings had seven shots in the first half, most of which narrowly missed.
Mills' Justin Andrada and Erik Johnson were especially unlucky in the first half. Both had a number of good looks at goal, but just could not direct shots on net. Andrada won a 50-50 ball in the Aragon penalty box and had a step on the defender. He broke on goal, but his shot sailed well high. Minutes later, Mills took a throw in deep in Aragon territory and the ball was thrown to the middle of the Dons' penalty box. Carlos Dantas was unmarked and leapt in the air, hitting a volley, that also went just high. Johnson had a couple of long-distance shots go just wide of the net as well.
"Mills is a very good squad,” Markoulakis said. "They impressed (us) the first time we played them.”
Meanwhile, Aragon's attacks were few and far between. But in the 29th minute, against the run of play, Ranier Plantinos pounded in his 10th goal of the PAL campaign off a corner kick to give the Dons a 1-0 lead. Manny Villasenor triggered the play by sending the corner kick into the Mills penalty box. The Vikings goalkeeper came off his line, but managed to only slap the ball down, where it trickled out to Plantinos, who was stationed near the left corner of the box. After he took a touch to settle the ball, he blasted a shot through traffic and into the right-corner of the net.
"[Plantinos] is a phenomenal player,” Markoulakis said. "He may be the class of the league.”
In the second half, the Dons scrapped their tactic of trying to build up their attack through the midfield and took the direct approach. Not only did it clog up the middle and slow down Mills' attack, it generated a number of dangerous scoring chances for the Dons, who had eight shots in the second half, four of which were on goal.
Aldo Severson was the lone target up top for the Dons in the second half and he drew a lot of attention, at times drawing all four Viking defenders to him. He had a couple of chances go by the wayside before he finally connected in the 65th minute. A long clearance by the Aragon defense sprung Severson loose. He ran by the defense and broke in on goal. As the defenders closed on him, it appeared his last touch was too heavy and the Mills goalkeeper had a chance at stopping him. But with his long strides, Severson caught up to the ball and poked it past the sliding goalkeeper and into the net for his eighth tally of the league season.
"[Severson] picked up his work rate in the second half. Dropping [Plantinos] into the midfield … helped ( the offense),” Markoulakis said. "[Both Severson and Plantinos] are major components of our attack.”