After the team’s close defeat against Lynbrook HS on Jan. 12, junior Avi Libman claimed it was one of their best games yet. The team started out the game strong, establishing a 2-1 lead in the first half through heightened focus and tight passes. It was only until the last five minutes of the game that LHS made a controversial tie-breaking goal: a Viking kicked the keeper’s hands, bringing the score to a 3-2 win.
Despite the disappointing loss that day, MVHS brought renewed energy to their game against Milpitas HS on Jan. 20, claiming their first victory in the league. The score was a clean 4-0 — all four goals were made in the first half.
“It was just a good confidence booster for us, since we’ve been not performing to what we would’ve liked to be performing recently,” junior Youssef Khater said.
Within the first two minutes of play, sophomore Guy Lavi pushed through the MHS Trojans’ defense and scored a goal, instantly putting MVHS in the lead. As the energy rose amongst the players, junior David Hernandez took a shot that rebounded off the goal onto junior Itay Rabinovich, who then was able to seize the second goal of the game for MVHS. A few minutes later, another shot from Rabinovich deflected off a MHS defender’s foot, resulting in an own goal. With three goals already on the scoreboard, senior Takeshi Ueno scored the fourth and final goal within the first 20 minutes.
“First half of the game, we basically sealed it in the first 15 minutes,” junior Dylan Randazzo said. “From then on, we were just trying to control the pace of the game, making sure no one gets hurt.”
The Matadors were not as successful in the second half. With fewer passes and increased shots on the goal, players began playing more selfishly and lost their unity, allowing overconfidence to replace the teamwork that they were working on improving during this game.
“We were more laid back second half because we had the lead,” Khater said. “We didn’t really have the pressure that we had to keep scoring.”
Despite the lack of communication amongst the MVHS team, MHS still had trouble scoring due to MVHS’ unrelenting possession of the ball. When the Trojans did manage to get the ball and push through defense, senior and goalie Ginga Sato often took advantage of the opposing team’s weak follow-ups, leaving his post to kick the ball far away from the MVHS goal and generating surprised, supportive hollers from teammates on the bench. The second half ended with no goals scored by either team.
In addition to being the Matadors’ first victory, the game also marked Sato’s first time being goalie this season. With previous goalie senior Daniel Hong injured, and other goalie junior Hassham Malik temporarily discharged from the team, Sato was selected to fill in.
“There’s a responsibility that I can’t get injured,” Sato said. “I’m doing my thing and preparing so that I don’t get injured and I think I’m preparing pretty well for that.”
Despite the 4-0 shutout, the score did not meet the expectations of coach Todd Kimble, who’d hoped to see the team win 7-0. Similarly, the players acknowledge that MHS, with its losing record this season, may not be at the same competitive level as other rival schools, and view this game as a means of practicing their skills and teamwork for the future.
“For next time, we just need to bring the same competitive nature that we had in some of our games and bring that against the more difficult teams,” Randazzo said.
The team’s next home game is against Gunn HS on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 3 PM.