El Diamante boys soccer coach Agustin Gonzalez finally got the “monkey off his back.”
It took him four seasons, but he finally defeated his alma mater.
Gonzalez and his Miners took it to Redwood for 80 minutes and came out on top with a 5-1 victory in a West Yosemite League match on Friday at the Giant Chevrolet-Cadillac Mineral King Bowl.
“I came to Redwood and was on varsity all four years. To finally beat them as a head coach is like getting a monkey off my back,” Gonzalez said. “We always play good, but we get to the Redwood game and we start tanking because they beat us and it gets our morale down.”
Morale was definitely high after the Miners knocked off their crosstown rival. Not only did they pour it on with five goals, they improved to 3-0 in the WYL and 8-3-2 overall.
“He told us he has never beat Redwood so that got us fired up,” El Diamante junior Joey Chica said. “It got us going during practice. We wanted to do it for him.”
But with such an impressive victory, Gonzalez had to warn his team about that “target” on their backs getting much larger.
“I think I have a team that is young and likes having that target on their back,” Gonzalez said. “When I first started these seniors were freshman. They’re finally starting to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I think they can handle the pressure, I hope they can handle it.”
Pressure is something the Miners are accustomed to putting on their opposition. Gonzalez said he has strayed away from a ball possession strategy and has turned his team loose. He wants his players attacking and putting the pressure on the opposing defense.
“We have a team that likes to run so I went away from doing so much possession. I told them to pressure and eventually the other team will fold and we’re going to score,” Gonzalez said.
That gameplan worked perfectly against the Rangers.
El Diamante took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a goal by Juan Diego Medina.
The second half was all El Diamante.
Chica, who assisted Medina, scored in the 47th minute, Emmanuel Cardenas added a goal in the 50th minute on an assist from Francisco Torres, Cesar Flores scored in the 58th minute on an assist from Chica, and Medina put the finishing touches on the win in the 80th minute.
“Coach just told us to pressure and that’s how we play Miner ball,” Chica said. “Put pressure and shoot more and that’s how we got our goals.”
Redwood coach Miguel Balderas was frustrated after the match. He wasn’t frustrated because his team lost. He said losses are a part of soccer. he was frustrated by his team’s effort throughout the season.
“El Diamante is a strong team and very mature, but I’m frustrated with our effort,” Balderas said. “To a certain degree, we are a young team, but we have been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all season. I thought we started well. We had a shot off the post, a couple other shots that were close, but that’s part of the game. I thought there were some mistakes by the officials and that’s also part of the game. I’m not complaining but some of those things cost us. In the end, we lost because El Diamante was a better team and we got beat.”
The Rangers fell to 2-2 in the WYL and 5-10 overall, but Balderas feels there is time to turn the season around.
“We’ve had times where we have played well,” he said. “That’s the good thing about this year, is that we have some young players who are starting and playing really well. That’s promising. I hope we turn it around and play better next time.”
The Miners will host Lemoore on Tuesday as they hope to keep their winning ways going, which is something Chica said is possible.
“All 21 of these guys on the team, I have faith in them,” Chica said. “I believe in them. We have a good team.”