By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
Los Altos defenders and particularly Aaron Preston were doing a fine job containing Walnut’s attackers in the final third in Friday’s Hacienda League boys soccer game.
The frustration was written all over Walnut striker Mario Interiano’s face, who failed several times to find cutters or create own his own shot, particularly with Preston shadowing him every time he looked for an opportunity to get a shot off.
But with the game winding down, Interiano finally got the best of Preston and the Conquerors’ defense. He spun away to free himself down the right side, then cut in front of Preston and held him off darting toward the goal, firing off the game-winner from a tough angle in the 72nd minute to give Walnut a 1-0 victory.
Interiano’s ninth goal of the season allowed Walnut (8-0-1, 1-0) to remain undefeated and more importantly, start the Hacienda League off on a positive note after finishing fourth last year. (click thread to continue reading)
“That defender (Preston) was tough to beat,” Interiano said. “He was coming in hard, but after a while of taking him on you get a feel for the defender.
“My coach (Jerry Laterza) had a talk and said ‘look at his feet.’ The next time I got it I remembered what my coach said. He said don’t do to much, just take one cut in, one more touch and finish it. That’s all it took really.”
Los Altos (6-5-2, 0-2) had a couple golden opportunities to take the lead and possibly give Walnut its first defeat.
The Conquerors’ Julian Elizarraras beat Mustangs goalkeeper Cameron Siete in the 31st minute, but couldn’t find the open net, steering his shot off the right netting.
Manuel Medina had another great chance for Los Altos, but his shot was turned away by a diving save from Siete to keep the game scoreless in the 70th minute.
A few minutes later, Interiano made them pay.
Laterza knew Los Altos would be a tough customer. Just last week, Walnut beat Los Altos 1-0 in the championship of the Don Lugo tournament.
“It’s tough to beat the same team back-to-back,” Laterza said. “It’s always a situation where you relax a little bit and you think it’s going to be an easy game. But they’re a good little team. It’s going to be tough when we play (away) next time because they have a grass field. It’s small and compact and keeps them in the game.
“So, this is a good win and hopefully it gives us a little confidence going to the next game.”
Walnut’s undefeated record comes with some impressive statistics too. It was the Mustangs’ fifth straight shutout and they’ve outscored opponents 26-3.
“This year it’s our discipline,” Interiano said. “Everybody is coming to practice and giving it their all. We have an excellent leader in (defender) Andrew Almeida, he’s keeping the defense organized. When a person makes a mistake, you don’t get down on yourself you keep on going. That’s the whole thing about keeping shutouts, everyone stays positive instead of getting down on ourselves.”