LEMOORE — There was no Monday blues for the Lemoore boys soccer team as the offense, defense and goalkeeping were all alert and focused for eighty minutes.
The Tigers (13-7-4, 6-4-1 WYL) downed Golden West (9-8-2, 6-5 WYL) 2-0 and recorded their ninth shutout of the season behind the rotating goalkeepers of Jesus Lopez and Manuel Morales.
Lopez made three saves in the first half and Morales added five in the second. Both were ready and stellar on the line with each making at least one diving save to keep Golden West out of their net.
“Both keepers in both halves, they’re a good tandem to have,” Lemoore coach Eric Bow said. “They’ve shared the load throughout the season and each of them has some great strengths.”
Another guy with some great strengths on the team would be Lemoore forward Josh Roa. After being held without a goal for three of the past four games, Roa found the back of the net twice on Monday.
“The perfect through balls were just there today,” Roa said. “In the other games they weren’t and our passing was just on point today.”
The first goal came in the 20th minute off a penalty kick. Lemoore forward Chase Garcia put a good head on the ball to Roa who beat the defender with his speed and had no choice, but to try and make a play on the ball.
The result was a tackle in the box and an easy call for the referee. Roa, who is third in the West Yosemite League with 24 goals, said his mentality before the kick was, “It’s going in for sure.”
Roa used his speed again in the 36th minute to get behind the Trailblazers’ defense after getting a well-placed through ball from Jackson Fagundes. Roa got in the box and took the goalkeeper to the left — where he couldn’t keep up — and scored on the open net.
The Tigers controlled the middle and attacking third, which resulted in three shots on goal in the first half. Lopez was ready for each one and made it look easy.
The second half was more about possession for the Tigers. The Trailblazers did start the second half with a more aggressive offense.
They had three shots and two shots on goal in the first three minutes, but this time it was Morales’ turn to swipe away the danger.
“It’s just a mindset,” Morales said. “You have to come in with the mindset of be ready to play.”
The defense did their job in the second half by rarely allowing Golden West into the attacking third. When they did, it usually wasn’t for long as the ball was constantly cleared or taken away.
“Our whole defense is great,” Roa said. “Pete, he’s one of our main defenders. He holds everything down. Shoutout to him … He’s a great player.”
Pete Hawken didn’t play Monday night, but Roa wanted to make sure that he got credit for all he has done throughout the season. His recognition of Hawken is really a microcosm of how the team operates. They play as one and want to see each other succeed.
The Tigers finished with nine shots, four shots on goal and a corner kick. Golden West had 11 shots, eight shots on goal and one corner kick as well. The eight shots on frame are a little misleading as all, but three had a good chance at being a goal.
The win completed the sweep of the Trailblazers who they defeated 2-1 in their first match on Jan. 11. It also moved the Tigers into a tie with Golden West for third in league.
Lemoore also did plenty to help with their seeding for playoffs since Golden West is a Division I squad. They lost to El Diamante (Division II) 1-0 twice and defeated Redwood (Division II) 1-0 and lost to them 3-0 the first time.
Before the game, Lemoore had a ceremony for Senior Night. The seniors walked out of the Tiger tunnel with a rose and were accompanied by a family member. In all, Lemoore had nine seniors: Jesus Lopez, Devonte Rodriguez, Nykolas Villa, Josh Roa, Diego Ceja, Eddie Rivadeneira, Nicholas Gonzalez, Damian Castro and Manuel Morales.
“I’ve been playing this sport, in high school, for four years,” Roa said. “It’s just sad to see it, the last home game, but it’s fun. I’m happy.”
Morales shared the same sentiments.
“It feels good, but also at the same time you knowing it’s probably going to be your last time playing on the field,” Morales said. “It’s just a bittersweet feeling.”