Calaveras can't escape finishing games in a tie

The last time the Calaveras High School boys’ soccer team lost a game was Jan. 14 against the Sonora Wildcats in San Andreas. Since that loss, Calaveras has played four more games. And while Calaveras hasn’t suffered another loss, it has only picked up one victory.

For the third game in a row, Calaveras walked off the field with a tie. After playing to a 0-0 tie against Summerville on Jan. 28, Calaveras tied the Wildcats 1-1 Jan. 30 in Sonora. And on Tuesday night, the trend continued with a 1-1 tie to Amador at Frank Meyer Field in San Andreas.

Against Sonora, Calaveras had a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes to play before giving up a goal late in the game. And on Tuesday night, Calaveras again had a lead late in the contest, only to be scored on with under four minutes remaining.

“These last two games feel like losses,” Calaveras head coach Rob Leetham said. “We felt like the Summerville tie was a win with the way we played and them being such a great team. The Sonora tie and the tie tonight are wins that we should have come home with.”

Calaveras can't escape finishing games in a tie

Calaveras’ offense scored six goals in the first two games of the Mother Lode League season, but over the past five contests, have only scored six times. After the opening 40 minutes of soccer against Amador, Calaveras continued with its offensive struggles and was unable to put the ball into the back of the net.

With 23:35 to play in the second half, Calaveras finally got the break it needed. Senior Andrew Celli got fouled and was awarded a penalty kick. Instead of trying to blast a shot past the Amador goalkeeper, the Calaveras co-captain gently touched the ball into the corner of the net, like he was making a leisurely pass to a teammate during practice.

“I didn’t feel a whole lot of pressure,” Celli said. “I stayed calm and it was just like an easy pass to the corner. I didn’t think anything of it.”

Calaveras can't escape finishing games in a tie

Once Celli’s kick hit the back of the net, he felt like his team would finally get the momentum it needed.

“I thought after that PK that we’ be able to hold them and probably score a couple more,” Celli said. “But, we just couldn't pull it together.”

Calaveras can't escape finishing games in a tie

With a 1-0 lead, Calaveras leaned on its defense, who has been playing outstanding against league opponents. In seven league games, Calaveras allowed only five goals and never more than two. It looked as if Calaveras’ defense would once again hold an opponent scoreless, but with 3:15 to play, Amador got behind the defense and scored on a breakaway to tie the game 1-1.

However, Leetham and the rest of the Calaveras players felt an offsides should have been called and the goal shouldn’t have counted.

“I know it sounds like sour grapes, but that was obviously an offsides call that wasn’t made by the far official,” Leetham said. “That goal shouldn’t have counted, but we shouldn’t have put them in that position anyways.”

Calaveras had three minutes to try and score and while it had a number of opportunities, the score remained 1-1.

Calaveras can't escape finishing games in a tie

“We played really well tonight, but our shots just didn’t go in,” Calaveras junior Jamie Espiritu said. “We need to pull together and just move forward.”

With its third tie in a row, Calaveras’ league record is now 3-1-3 and it is sitting behind Sonora (6-1-1 MLL) and Summerville (6-1-1 MLL) in the standings. Calaveras has three games remaining, with two of them against Argonaut (1-4-2 MLL) and one against Bret Harte (0-7-1 MLL). Even though Calaveras’ final three games are against the two teams lowest in the standings, Leetham isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I don’t want to discount Argonaut or Bret Harte,” Leetham said. “They are going to take it to us just like everyone else. If we can’t find a way to score more, we’re in trouble.”

Calaveras takes on Argonaut at 5:45 p.m. Thursday in Jackson and then will host Bret Harte at 5:45 p.m., Feb. 11 in San Andreas. Calaveras finishes the regular season at 5:45 p.m., Feb. 13 at home against Argonaut.

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