The chances of seeing a goal in an Alisal High vs. Alvarez High boys soccer game lately are about as good as seeing rain in the Salinas Valley.
The dry spell continued for both teams, who played 80 minutes Tuesday evening and couldn’t come up with a goal on either side.
It’s the second game in a row between the teams where neither squad was able to score a goal in regulation or overtime. The last time that happened was the epic Central Coast Section Division I semifinal contest attended by thousands of fans at Salinas High Stadium.
There was a sizable crowd in attendance for Tuesday’s contest at Alvarez High, as fans cheered loudly for their teams.
Both squads did their best to get a goal in, but as was the case back in February in the playoff game, both teams denied each other.
It’s the fifth consecutive time one team has been shut out in the matchup.
For Alvarez (5-1-4, 2-0-1 MBL Gabilan), the scoring woes against its rival was extended for another 80 minutes. The Eagles have not scored a goal against Alisal since Feb. 1, 2011, a span of more than 440 minutes gametime. That was also the last time they defeated Alisal.
But of the two teams, Alvarez arguably had the best chances, including one in the 51st minute, when Pedro Virgen Martinez received a lob and headed the ball past Alisal goalkeeper Andres Camacho. The ball trickled less than a foot wide left.
Both coaches said the outcome wasn’t what they had expected, as they both believed their players had done enough to get a goal.
“It was a good overall game,” said Alvarez coach Edgar Luquin. “We had plenty of scoring opportunities, but the ball just didn’t go in for us.”
Alisal (7-2-2, 2-0-1 MBL Gabilan), which got off to a hot start in nonleague play, is 2-2-1 in its last five contests.
It was tested throughout the night by its rivals and still posted a few scoring opportunities in each half.
In the 12th minute, Humberto Mendoza raced down the left side and found Benito Chavez open for a moment. Chavez received the ball and goalkeeper Frank Ortiz came out to challenge. Chavez moved past Ortiz, but the rest of the Alvarez defense was there to stop Chavez from a shot on goal.
In the 58th minute, Chavez ran down the left sideline with the ball past several Alvarez defenders and let it rip. The ball zoomed wide to the right.
As the game went on, the defenses for both teams tightened up, and the forwards for both teams found fewer openings.
“It gets tense in those later moments,” said Alisal coach Mark Cisneros. “There was a tendency to drop back and take the wait-and-see approach.”
The just-missed header in the 51st minute wasn’t the only time Alvarez was wondering if it would ever break the scoring drought against Alisal.
In the 62nd minute, Alvarez had a throw in about 20 yards from the Alisal goal. Camacho crept out and challenged the Alvarez forwards for the ball. He won the 50-50 duel with the Alvarez forwards, as he stumbled and fell on top of the ball, but he was outside of his box near the right sideline, so he couldn’t grab it with his hands. The ball eventually trickled out of bounds to Alvarez, and Camacho raced back to defend the goal. Alvarez got a quick throw-in and a shot on goal that went wide right.
Both teams will face Watsonville next. Alvarez heads to Watsonville on Thursday, and Alisal welcomes the Wildcatz to its home next Tuesday.
In one of the toughest leagues in the state, there is no rest.
“It doesn’t stop,” Cisneros said. “The teams keep coming at you every week.”
Luquin said this week will be perhaps Alvarez’s biggest test of the season so far.
“This is probably going to be a make-or-break week for us,” Luquin said.