INDEPENDENCE – The Central boys soccer team has faced its share of adversity this season.
That was all forgotten on Tuesday night when the team blew past the Dallas Dragons for an 8-1 victory on the Panther home field.
It was a positive end to the season.
“I honestly cannot be more proud of these kids because of all that we had to overcome this season, and I cannot wait to see what we do next year,” said head coach Jose Becerra. “Overall, it was a hard and tough season with many unexpected hurdles and situations, but those have only made us stronger and prepared us for next year.”
This win came after six losses in a row, and it was the second game the Panthers (4-8-2 overall, 2-6 Mid-Willamette Conference) won this season.
That wasn't the only tough situation the boys had to get through.
The young team, most of whom had little to no varsity experience, experienced a major set back when, two weeks ago, four members chose to leave the team.
"It was a tough adjustment," said Becerra. "However, once this whole situation happened, we did talk about challenges in life and how you have to find ways to cope and move on."
“It was a rough patch,” said junior Owen LeMaster, “but I think we didn’t let it put us down. We just had to work harder and work as a team better.”
Three minutes into the first half of the game, junior Leonardo Hernandez scored the Panthers’ first goal. He recorded four goals overall for the night. LeMaster, Fabian Prado and sophomore Edwin Parroquin also each scored one.
Going into the halftime, the Panthers held the Dragons (2-11 overall, 0-8 MWC) 1-0.
Becerra wanted to make sure that energy stayed up in the second half of the game.
“During halftime, we talked about using each other and passing the ball more often,” he said.
His words must have resonated with the team; in the second half, the Panthers scored seven goals in 15 minutes.
The team’s energy had a lot to do with honoring the team’s seniors, said Becerra.
“They wanted to play and win for Gerardo Acevedo, since it was going to be his last game. They also wanted to play for the other two seniors, but mainly Gerardo since he was on varsity since the beginning and did not quit when some of his friends decided to quit,” Becerra said.
Acevedo played for most of the game.
“It was amazing; it was the best game of my life probably,” he said.
After the game, Panthers supporters came down onto the field to congratulate the team and take pictures with its members.