Vikings, Lobos play to 0-0 tie

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Usually playing a tie game is nothing to celebrate. However, for the Montgomery boys’ soccer team, Tuesday’s 0-0 overtime battle with Elsie Allen wasn’t all that bad.
The tie keeps Montgomery comfortably atop the North Bay League standings and, most importantly, allows the Vikings to control their fate.

At 7-1-3, Montgomery can now be assured of the title by winning its final three league games. The three teams chasing the Vikings — Rancho Cotate, Santa Rosa and Maria Carrillo — each have at least four losses.
The Vikings’ three remaining opponents are Cardinal Newman (Thursday), Maria Carrillo (Oct.26) and Ukiah (Oct.28). Earlier in the season, Montgomery defeated Newman, and Ukiah and tied Carrillo.

While winning the NBL title in his first year as head coach will look good on Mike Murray’s resume, the San Jose native doesn’t believe he’s gotten the Vikings to play their best yet.

“This group is one of the goofiest teams I’ve been around,” he said. “They never stay serious and that’s good and bad. They stay loose, which is good, but it’s tough to change gears when the game is on the line.
“The ability is there, it’s just that this group has yet to play a whole game giving a peak performance. They tend to sit back, play at the other team’s level and then do just enough to win the game.”

For the most part, the Vikings have been successful playing hard only in spurts. Overall, their record is 13-2-4. Seven of those wins have been one-goal squeakers.
Murray knows that when the postseason rolls around, his team won’t last long unless it commits to playing all out, all the time.

“We talk about it after games and at practice,” Murray said. “The ability is there, the guys just can’t play around with other teams and then turn it on and expect to win every time.
“This year, these guys have had 20-to-30 minutes stretches where it’s been really fun to watch. What I’m trying to do is get them to play entire games at that level.”
Chris Kelly, a three-year starter in goal, stopped everything that came his way Tuesday and has been solid all season.

“He’s not a highlight reel,” Murray said, “but he saves everything that comes in the box.
“Trevor Smandra is another senior that’s having a good year. He plays sweeper and is one of the fastest players in the league.”

Senior Colin Murphy is the team stopper, according to Murray.
“I put him on the other team’s best players,” the coach said. “He makes my defense stable.”
Junior Diego Lopez is Montgomery’s top scorer with 13 goals.
Elsie Allen coach Sergio Lopez contends his team is playoff caliber, despite a losing record. The Lobos are 3-7-5 and 1-4-4 in league.

“We’ve dominated play in a lot our games, but just haven’t been able to finish with a goal,” he said. “That’s why we have so many ties. We just don’t have that player that is a big offensive threat.”
In their last five games, the Lobos have scored only three goals. However, they lost only one of those games, 1-0 to Rancho Cotate.
“Hopefully we’ll make the playoffs because if we can score a little more, we’ll be dangerous,” Lopez said.

Tuesday’s game against Montgomery was typical of the Elsie Allen season. The defense and keeper Salvador Cortez kept the Lobos in the game. The offense, however, was unable to score.
Elsie Allen hosts Santa Rosa on Thursday.