Boys’ Soccer Shoots for the Stars Against Orange High

Boys’ soccer (3-2-0) won 4-2 against Orange High in the stadium on Nov. 19, following a loss against Tustin High on Nov. 17.

Within the first seven minutes, the Panthers swiftly drove the ball up the field, pushing past the Bulldogs’ defense and scoring a point. The Bulldogs were heavily pressured throughout the first half, but soon enough they pushed back by sticking to their gameplan: keeping the ball in possession by skillfully passing it to the midfielders: junior Yasser Mallisho, junior Artin Salehi and sophomore Ethan Yang.

“We wanted to move the ball a lot, and that was one thing that we really tried to focus on, just unbalancing them, making them run a lot,” head boys’ soccer coach Benjamin Jordon said. “Other than that, it was just playing our style and really trusting our middle players.”

With 17 minute left until halftime, Jordon made a strategic substitution, swapping Yang for forward and senior Paul Agbor. The Bulldogs looked to create scoring opportunities through crosses, a technique where outer players run it to the sidelines and pass to the center forward, who then attempts to shoot a goal.

After receiving a pass from midfield, Agbor used his speed to dribble past three defenders, driving the ball into the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.

“This is the first time this group has really played together as juniors and seniors, so understanding our playstyles and trying to build that chemistry between each other — it’s actually been difficult,” midfielder and senior Omer Elsharif said. “That’s what preseason is there for. We’re there to build chemistry, and we’re actually very excited for the season.”

Entering the second half, the Bulldogs aimed to continue their game plan of strategically moving the ball through the midfield and up the wings, featuring a tight miss by forward and junior Ryan Truong and saves by goalie and sophomore Santiago Becerril. The game tipped into the Bulldogs’ favor as Agbor scored the second goal, making the score 2-1.

The rest of the half included narrow misses by the Bulldogs as they continued to drive the ball up the midfield and into the penalty box to get a clear shot on target. However, the Panthers’ defense fouled Truong in the box and gave the Bulldogs a free penalty kick with ten minutes remaining.

“I think we definitely moved the ball well; we showed a lot of intensity fighting for the ball when we didn’t have it and moving the ball quickly to create chances,” Truong said. “When we started making those crucial, defensive tackles, it really motivated our team and pushed us to work harder.”

Salehi put the penalty away, increasing the score to 3-1. After a concession by the defense, the score was 3-2.

The Bulldogs pushed for more attacks until the Panthers’ defense gave the Bulldogs another penalty with two minutes remaining. Troung placed the penalty into the back of the net, ending the game at 4-2.

“We’re like brothers, honestly,” Truong said. “So I think we mean a lot to each other, and I think we have really good chemistry this year. So we always fight for each other, and I’m really happy that we mesh so well.”