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Opportunistic offense leads 'Jackets to victory
Two heads-up plays by Williams High forward Alex Gomez stole victory from the grasp of the Pierce High boys soccer team Tuesday in Arbuckle.
Gomez tapped in a loose ball after Bears goalkeeper Victor Navaro blocked a penalty kick, and added an insurance goal in the second half after stealing a throw-in pass in front of the Pierce goal.
Adolfo Ramirez scored a late goal for Pierce but the Bears couldn't pull off the comeback, losing 2-1 in a game they controlled the vast majority of the time.
Williams (1-1) is in rebuilding mode after taking a senior-heavy team to the Northern Section championship game where they lost to Durham 2-1 last season.
"Last year we lost about three quarters of our starters so we have a lot of new faces this year," said coach Renea Garcia. "It's just a rebuilding year this year, we're trying to figure everybody out and see where they play best."
Pierce exposed some of the Yellowjackets' inexperience, putting constant pressure on goalkeeper Favian Alferez. Alferez made four saves but was busy all game. Bears forwards peppered the goal with shots but struggled to find their finishing touch.
"(Alferez) definitely did a good job, this is his first year playing keeper for us. We worked with him quite a bit over the last few weeks and he's really improving," Garcia said.
The Yellowjackets scored first in the 23rd minute after a Pierce defender tripped up Hugo Perez just inside the penalty box.
Navaro dove to his left and blocked Joseph Alva's penalty kick attempt, but Gomez sprinted in and kicked the ball into the net before Navaro had a chance to scramble after the ball.
After his breakaway attempt sailed wide right in the second half, Gomez followed a hunch on a Pierce throw-in. The soft pass rolled back towards Navaro in goal and Gomez reacted quickly as the Bears tried to organize their counter-attack.
Gomez stole the ball and dribbled around Navaro for an open shot at the net and a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute.
"I was expecting that, I was kind of wondering if he was going to pass it there and as soon as he passed it I went in," Gomez said.
His second goal turned out to be the difference because Ramirez cut through traffic with a hard shot in front of the net just two minutes later.
Despite the loss, Pierce played well in their first match of the season. The inability to finish ultimately cost them a game they controlled. The Bears had nine corner kicks to just two for the Yellowjackets.
"We had our shots but we had a lot of mistakes. We did good for our first game and I think we'll get better each week," Ramirez said.
The Bears (1-1) beat host Winters 2-1 on Thursday but the statistics were not available by press time. They return to action against Colusa on Tuesday in Arbuckle.
Williams travels to Esparto on Tuesday for the first Sacramento Valley League II match.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.