Between the density of the fog and the obscenely tall grass, it felt that Lowell and Lincoln’s boys soccer teams played Tuesday’s Academic Athletic Association match at Lincoln High School in a swamp rather than on a pitch.
Somehow, Lowell (4-0) weathered both the elements and the Lincoln defense, sneaking out a 2-0 road victory.
“We would have liked to run a more balanced offense,” said Lowell coach Marcos Estebez. “We had to take what they gave us, and it says something about our team that we were able to adjust.”
At first, neither team was able to muster a promising attack. It wasn’t until Mustangs junior defender Juan Velasquez desperately cleared a hanging rebound in front of his own goal that either team excited the crowd with an opportunity to score.
Then, a minute after coming up empty on a promising breakaway in the 34th minute, Cameron Basaing put away a goal off a rebound for the first score of the contest.
The score not only put the Cardinals in the lead, but began a clear shift in the style of play.
To begin the second half, the Mustangs (2-6, 2-2) adopted a more physical brand of play.
“It was a big game for us,” said Lincoln coach Kenyatta Scott. “A lot of the time our guys forget to concentrate on the technical aspect and let their emotions take over.”
Scott’s words were illustrated best when a miscommunication on defense in the 53rd minute enabled Cardinals senior forward Leo Harrington to beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one opportunity and assume a two-goal lead.
“When we have a guy as fast as Leo, we are going to make an effort to get him the ball,” Estebez said.
Although Harrington’s relentless pursuit of through balls bothered Lincoln for the duration of the contest, Velasquez believes that the Mustangs will be able to handle such an attack by the end of the season.
“We are capable of [playing] better, we just need to focus on playing as a team,” Velasquez said.
For Lowell, a group with no shortage of team spirit, a showdown with Washington next week is the next order of business.
Next on the schedule for the Mustangs is International Studies Academy.
“We have a good team that plays a pretty game,” Scott said. “Our match today was a teachable moment, and as a presence in the classroom as well, I know it’s moments like those that define our team.”
Preps sports coverage provided in partnership by The San Francisco Examiner and www.SanFranPreps.com