Central wins soccer opener 2-1

Fernando Becerra and Ugo Gomez help the Panthers get off on the right foot.



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Kevin Cryer (17) of Central flies in front of a The Dalles player during the host Panthers' 2-1 win on Sept. 5.

INDEPENDENCE -- Fernando Becerra had both of Central's goals in a 2-1 season-opening soccer victory against The Dalles on Sept. 5 at CHS.

But the game almost surely would have gone into the loss column were it not for the efforts of goalkeeper Ugo Gomez.

"He was our MVP," Central coach Rich Abrams said. "He saved a penalty kick, and he made two other saves on breakaways. he made some serious saves in one-on-one situations."

The last of which came with about 10 minutes to go when a The Dalles attacker either was tripped or took a dive (depending on your perspective) in the penalty area. Gomez deflected the ensuing penalty shot wide of the net.

The Indians scored first in the game's 20th minute, and Becerra tied it about five minutes later. Becerra's shot deflected off a The Dalles player before entering the goal. The game-winner came on a similar play in the 65th minute.

Central had occasional lapses in the defensive end of the field, not unexpected in the first game of the season. The Panthers are trying to work in a pair of new fullbacks in Josh Brown and Noe Nunez. The team does have two experienced defenders in Seth Thompson and Kevin Cryer.

"I felt we were a little shaky," Abrams said. "It was just not having played together before. We were not as well-coordinated as we could have been. A lot of it is just first-game jitters, too.

"It's just a matter of the defense communicating better. We've got two returning starters on defense, and two other guys kind of learning the ropes."

Central participated in the Cascade Jamboree on Sept. 7 and finished second, losing 1-0 to Wilsonville in its final game.

The Panthers went 2-0-1 in pool play, during which games were limited to 30 minutes. They beat Stayton 1-0 on a goal by Gamiliel Vega, and used a Liandro Jimenez score to top Westside Christian 1-0. Central tied Yamhill-Carlton 2-2 with goals coming from Jesus Esquivel and Shin-Hee Seo.

This week, Central played at Cascade Sept. 10 (results unavailable) and will host Sherwood on Sept. 17.

"We're just going to see if we can get a little more attack and a little more confidence in the defense," Abrams said.



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