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Storm provides surprises in CHS soccer victory

Claremont High School boys soccer faced two adversaries Friday night: Thousand Oaks High School and the weather. The rain at times was so heavy that it obscured the field, and the wind made shots go far off of their mark. In the end the Pack did prevail 2-0, advancing to the second round of the CIF tournament.

To say that conditions were awful would do a great disservice to how incredibly hard it was raining. The only refuge for the players and coaches was a handful of pop up tents that were in constant threat of collapse due to the water pooling on the canvas. The school’s trainer took it upon herself to periodically poke at the canvas with an umbrella resulting in a cascade that soaked anyone within five or six feet.

The scheduled start was delayed by fifteen minutes due in part to the referee requesting more sand bags to keep the goal from blowing over.

And then it was time to play soccer.

From the moment the game started it was abundantly clear that the team playing against the wind was at a huge disadvantage, and for the first half that was Claremont. Goal kicks went straight up or veered out of bounds and on more than one occasion throw ins went right back out.

For the first half the two teams sloshed around, missed a couple of chances to score, but nothing too noteworthy as the score ended 0-0 at halftime.

As the second half got under way and the Pack had the wind at their backs, the tempo of the game shifted.

After only a minute the Lancers’ goal kick caught a particularly strong gust landing 20 yards in front of the net, and Claremont went on the attack. Thousand Oaks defenders deflected several attempts, but senior striker Osvaldo Lopez got a clean shot off which sailed past the keeper into the corner of the net.

The Pack did it again a couple minutes later when Tyler Raby got a nice pass in front of the net but was called offside. Thousand Oaks was not going into the night quietly and had a couple of very nice chances but junior goalkeeper Rylan Opatkiewicz was there with great saves.

The wind and rain got the better of the Lancers when junior Eric Davis’ Hail Mary from midfield bounced over the keeper’s head. But as he chased it down, the ball took an odd bounce and even though he caught the ball, he fell back into the net for the CHS goal. Did the keeper slip or did he just loose his balance? Maybe this one becomes a storm stat.

On Wednesday the weather was much better, but the outcome was a tough loss to Saddleback High School in Santa Ana. After getting two goals in the first half, the Roadrunners sat back and defended their lead throughout the second half, delivering 2-0 defeat to the Pack.  

Still it was a very good season and the boys say adios to the season with a 14-8-3 record, 7-3 in league, and the knowledge they played through the strongest winter storm in years.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com