DENAIR — Simply, the first 40 minutes did in the Denair High boys soccer team. It was during the first-half stretch that the Coyotes watched and allowed Le Grand High to score three times, with each goal evoking celebration on the sideline and in the visiting stands of the Denair High soccer stadium on Wednesday night.
It all resulted in Denair falling 5-1 in the Southern League game. That means the Coyotes will have little room for error against league-leading Gustine High (12-0) on Tuesday and Delhi High on Thursday night, which will be the regular season finale.
As it stands, Delhi (7-3-2) and Denair (7-5-0) are fighting for the third and final spot playoff spot for the Southern League.
This season, the Coyotes are winless against those squads at 0-1 apiece.
“The next two are must-win games,” Coyotes coach Daniel Romero stated, “so if we want to make the playoffs, we must treat next week like two playoff games, which I believe this team can.”
Against Le Grand, the Coyotes did not have a good start and allowed a 3-0 halftime disadvantage. Denair forward Paul Oei did score his 30th goal of the season in the second half, but that wasn’t enough to slow down the play of Le Grand’s Tony Rodriguez and Daniel Rosa, who both finished with two goals, while teammate Marquez Lopez chipped in a score.
In the first half, the Bulldogs netted goals in the seventh, 16th and 35th minute, allowing them to enter the break feeling confident.
Le Grand — which is now in second place in the Southern League at 9-2-1 — attacked all night and forced Denair goalkeeper Casey Clark to have a busy day in front of the net. In fact, he finished with 15 saves.
“They scored early,” Romero said, “and we were never really able to recover from those early scores. It was 3-0 at halftime, we came back and scored one to make it 3-1, and they finished the game with two more goals. They are a very well-disciplined team, and we were not able to convert on the scoring chances we had.
“We fought harder in the second half, and controlled the game a little more to our style of play.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 634-9141 ext. 2041.