Wednesday, September 24, 2003
INDEPENDENCE -- Getting on top of the Central boys soccer team is one thing. But keeping the Panthers down is another.
Central improved to 3-2 on Sept. 18 at Gladstone with the sort of comeback win that's becoming the team's trademark.
"In our first game at The Dalles, we were down 4-1 at the start of the second half," head coach Rich Abrams said. "We scored four goals in the last 20 minutes to win the game, and that sort of set the tone for us. It helped us Thursday when we came from behind twice to win the match.
"We're putting together some attractive-looking games. I've even had opposing fans say we're a fun team to watch. We're playing quick and happy and they look like they're having fun, which is one of my goals."
Gladstone grabbed an early 1-0 lead on a penalty kick but Central answered with a goal from Fernando Becerra, also on a penalty shot.
The Gladiators went back ahead 2-1, but the Panthers tied it with about a minute to go in the first half. Ugo Gomez bad the ball and was being double-teamed to the side of the Gladstone goal. Gomez chipped a pass to the far post. Luis Gonzales controlled the ball with a chest-trap and one-timed the ball into the net, making it 2-2 at the midway point.
Central continued to pick up the pace in the second half and got the game-winner about halfway through.
Victor Alvarez had the ball deep in the corner and angled a pass through two defenders back across the middle. Gomez ran onto the ball, paused momentarily to let a Gladstone defender pass by and then rocketed home the final goal.
"We kind of came back and took over the game in the second half, I would say," Abrams said. "All of the players worked really hard. It was an extremely physical match with the whistle being blown a lot.
"We're not a team that's real aggressive from the outset. That reflects the fact that we're young. Gladstone was really taking it to us at first, pushing and working hard. We came back and did pretty much the same thing in the second half. We've got loads of talent, but it took us a half to get our bearings."
Central opened District 1 soccer play with a flourish on Sept. 22, routing host Newport 5-0.
Gomez, Alvarez and Gonzales each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers. Jose Hernandez and Jesus Hernandez scored once each, and Carlos Martinez had a pair of assists.