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Pierce soccer splits with Live Oak
The Live Oak boys soccer team began its Sacramento Valley League title defense with a second-half rally to wrestle the game away from Pierce 3-1 on Thursday in Arbuckle.
The defending Northern Section Division II champions overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit with three goals in the second half in the first game of the Sacramento Valley League season.
Senior midfielder Ricky Caratachea was involved in all three Live Oak goals, scoring the first on a hard shot from about 20 yards out in the 54th minute and assisted on his team's next two goals.
"We had to control ourselves," Caratachea said. "At first, when they scored the goal, we were a little nervous. After the first half our coach gave us a good talk and we got it together," Caratachea said.
Pierce took the lead in the 14th minute when Fernando Saavedra stole the ball and flicked a pass to Adolfo Ramirez for a goal.
The Bears frustrated the Lions with their aggressiveness and the referee handed out three yellow cards amongst the teams during the first half.
Juan Padilla, Diego Lopez and Uvaldo Alcaraz played stout defense for the Bears (3-3, 0-1) to keep Live Oak scoreless before halftime.
Live Oak coach Rene Villegas talked to his team during the break and told them to calm down and focus on what they were doing, not what the Bears were doing.
"I just told them to play their game and be patient because when we got scored on we were kind of rattled," Villegas said.
The Lions took the talk to heart and from the start of the second half until the final whistle, the Lions (6-2-1, 1-0) were in control.
Jose Cuellar and Edgar Diaz just missed on quality looks at the Pierce goal in the opening minutes of the half before Caratachea, the Lions big-legged captain, broke through with the equalizer.
Less than five minutes later, Caratachea fed a pass between Bears defenders to Salvador Vargas, who put Live Oak ahead.
Caratachea notched his second assist in the 70th minute when Diaz took his pass, made a nifty cut to the inside and scored an insurance goal.
Whenever the Bears put together a counter attack in the second half, somebody made a big play. Sweeper Rene Martinez stole the ball and stopped a potential Pierce breakaway and Jose Hernandez was often in the mix making a stop.
For Pierce, the game was a good measuring stick as the team grows accustomed to its new coach, Francisco Mendoza, who instituted a new 4-3-2 formation this year.
"It's been a little rough, but they're adapting and I'm adapting to them too," Mendoza said. "That's one of the tough things now, they're used to another way to do it and we're doing it a little differently, but it's working out."
The Bears already have a 2-0 victory against Esparto, which is perennially one of the top teams in Division III.
Pierce 3, Live Oak 2 (girls)
In the varsity girls match, the Bears (4-1-2) rallied from a 2-1 deficit at halftime to beat Live Oak 3-2 in their league opener.
Marissa Espino opened the scoring early on with an assist from Renata Montanez but the Lions scored twice before halftime.
Montanez scored the equalizer off an assist from Berenice Valasquez, and Yasmin Velazquez headed in the game-winner on a corner kick from Espino.
Senior goalkeeper Brenda Leos overcame some early rust to play a strong second half, coach Duffy Bailey said.
Bailey complimented the play of the defensive back row of Kenia Gutierrez, Carmen Lugardo and Velazquez, and midfielder Giselle Vera.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 749-4789