With one game to go, Live Oak wrapped up its Tri-County Athletic
League title with wins over visiting Salinas Tuesday and at Palma
1-0 on Thursday.
With one game to go, Live Oak wrapped up its Tri-County Athletic League title with wins over visiting Salinas Tuesday and at Palma 1-0 on Thursday.
Live Oak (15-1-4, 9-0 TCAL) and Gilroy (12-5-3, 7-1-1 TCAL) will face each other in the final game of the season on Tuesday at Live Oak. Live Oak won the first meeting 2-1. Gilroy tied North Salinas 0-0.
Both teams know each other well because of their club soccer experience together on the U17 Viking and the U18 Fusion – both of which are coached by GHS assistant coach and world cup referee Brian Hall.
“Between the two teams, there are 7 or 8 starting Live Oak players and four starters from Gilroy,” Hall said. “Last game had a lot of fire to it. The police always say a domestic disturbance is the toughest to break up. These guys are willing to jump off a bridge for each other in club season. It is now just one big family dispute.”
Although the game won’t count toward the league standings, it will count in points. If the Mustangs win, they would receive extra seeding points in Central Coast Section playoffs for beating a league champion.
“The Live Oak/Gilroy tradition goes back awhile,” Hall said. “No one wants to go to club practice twice a week to face the others after losing. That matchup this year has a little extra spice.”
It also has significance for Live Oak, who wants to end its league season giving up just two goals – one to Hollister and one to Gilroy. The defensive unit takes great pride in their performance and sports shirts with the slogan “No Goal Patrol” or NGP for short.
Against Salinas, Live Oak had two goals by both Sergio Avila (Nick Mott, Cesar Serrano) and Hussein Abdullahi (Serrano and Trevor Kozacek).
Junior midfielder Ryan Alexander gave the Acorns a solid performance. He was credited with a goal in the second half on a ball he kicked toward the net that was knocked in by a Salinas defender. Kozacek, who made several good runs at goal during the game, capped the scoring on an assist from Hector Lopez.
Lopez, a senior, had a couple nice runs at the goal but couldn’t get anything in.
Salinas, which does not have a JV program, was outshot 30 to 7. Live Oak had 13 shots on goal, and Salinas had only four, none of which were any threat.
“It wasn’t our best game, especially in the first half,” said Live Oak coach Tony Goble. “But we played a little better in the second half. We have to play our level of soccer regardless of who we play. If we play like we did in the first half against a playoff-quality team, we will get spanked.”
Live Oak was missing two of its starters on Tuesday.
“We are pretty deep,” Goble said. “I had every kid in on the bench and we still scored three goals with the reserves in and held the scoreless. Salinas has a couple players who, if they were at our school, could probably play. But we have a whole lineup of great players.”
Live Oak put in a goal in about the 20th minute against Palma. Hussan Abdullahi tapped in the goal on a pass from Serrano.
Palma kept Live Oak off balance with its physical play.
“The players were excited at the start, but it didn’t really settle in after,” Goble said about the clinching victory. “We didn’t play too well and let them push us around. They didn’t have much of an offense, but they kept packing us on defense. We had a lot of good chances, but we couldn’t put anything away.”
Live Oak’s NGP will have a tough task on Feb. 11 against Gilroy and an even tougher task in the playoffs.
“We still have a couple guys banged up,”Goble said. “Obviously, we are going to send out our best and give them a run. Knowing that we have the league wrapped up will make it easier.”