Sometimes the other team simply plays a better match and you get beat.
That was the unadulterated story Friday night for the Farmersville High boys soccer team after it lost 2-0 to St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano.
In their battle for the California Interscholastic Federation Division III Southern California Regional title, the Aztecs had the effort, they had more than enough fan support and they had the right mindset.
But they still went down to the Orange County powerhouse.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Farmersville coach Michael Jordan said. “I give all the credit to their players and coaching staff. They were a step quicker to the ball, they were a bit more physical, their passes were a bit more crisp. I don’t think we played poorly. They just played a little bit better.”
A look at the St. Margaret’s defense proved that point.
They flawlessly executed their gameplan of stifling hot-shot scorer Pedro Berber and senior captain Johnny Cervantes, rarely allowing the Aztecs to get the time and space to muster any legitimate scoring chances.
The best (and perhaps only) chance for an Aztecs score came in the 57th minute when Berber unleashed a laser from about 25 yards out right in the middle of the field. He got a solid strike on the ball and it was one of the few times that he wasn’t aggressively hounded, and his shot looked like it was going to find its way into the top of the net.
But he got a little too much height on it and the ball clanged off the football goalpost that rested less than a foot above the crossbar of the soccer goal.
Berber, who came in with a state-high 50 goals, didn’t get any other chances like that.
“I thought it was going in. It was a good shot,” the junior said. “I would get the ball and there would be pressure with two guys on me right away. They wouldn’t let me get the ball or do anything. They knew I was a key player. I basically couldn’t do anything.”
The Tartans (24-5-4) were able to do a little bit more.
They scored their first goal in the 27th minute when Owen Smith’s shot hit a wall of bodies about 20 yards out and the ball popped out to Dane Lind, who knocked a low skipper that got into the net past goalkeeper Ruben Valencia.
The second goal came in the 46th minute, less than 90 seconds after Valencia had a ball pop off his hands and get dangerously close to going in. Smith was the culprit on the goal, as he knocked a goofy shot that was taking small hops, compelling Valencia to get on the ground. The ball took a hop over Valencia’s head, though he definitely touched it in an attempt to stop the ball, and before a Farmersville defender valiantly sprinted to kick the ball away, it scooted into the goal.
On the night, the St. Margaret’s goalkeeper didn’t have to defend a direct shot, though he sprinted far from the goal on a couple occasions to make sliding stops.
Farmersville turned up the heat in the final 15 minutes but by then the Tartans had more than enough players hanging back on defense to thwart any legitimate threats.
“They really talk. If one guy takes one person the next guy is there right behind them. They’re always talking and they’re well organized. They know what they’re doing,” Cervantes said.
“We couldn’t get the through-ball going and when we went over the top their speed counteracted any flow we had. It was hard to get things going,” Jordan said.
Farmersville did at least win the battle of the crowds.
Three buses and many more cars made the long trip to Justice Stadium, just north of Long Beach, and they outdid the crowd on the other side of the stadium throughout the night.
It didn’t go unappreciated, as the players gave the cheering section a round of applause before accepting their runner-up medals, and Jordan was effusive in telling his players how lucky they were to have fans make the journey.
“It really helped. I always tell them at school that as a player on the field it literally does help when they are chanting and rooting us on. It’s a good motivation,” Cervantes said.
The loss made the Central Section 0-8 in the history of the regional finals, and moved Farmersville to 24-3-2.
Freshman Ismael Garcia was also presented with the Pursuing Victory With Honor award.