By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
HEALDSBURG — In a mid-season match between two of the top SCL boys’ soccer teams, Analy reasserted its grasp on the league lead with a 1-0 win Thursday night.
The game ended the first half of the SCL schedule with Analy (12-1-1, 5-1) alone atop the league and Healdsburg (7-4, 4-2) tied for second with Petaluma.
Despite only winning by a goal, Analy was in firm control of the game and dominated the first half. Healdsburg was fortunate the Tigers didn’t score more.
“We just didn’t finish our opportunities, so we made it (the win) harder than it should have been,” Analy coach Peter Meechan said. “Patience was the key for us tonight — making the extra pass.”
The Tigers owned the first half by controlling the midfield, executing effective counter-attacks and setting the pace.
Things paid off for Analy in the 13th minute as an unmarked Juan Sanchez blasted a 19-yard curling shot from the top of the box into the side of the net for the only goal of the game.
“I think their goalie (Daniel Dillon) didn’t see the shot,” Meechan said. “Sanchez played really well tonight.”
In fact, Dillon told the Greyhound coaches that he didn’t see the ball. Even so, the shot was such a curving, perfectly placed laser that Dillon likely had little chance even if he had seen the ball clearly.
“He (Juan Sanchez) had a clear look at the goal,” Healdsburg coach Herbert Lemus said. “That’s what happens when you don’t challenge — he (Sanchez) broke loose. We made mental mistakes and we paid for it.”
Analy’s defense pressured Healdsburg in the first half and was relentless in chasing down balls. The Tigers had several more scoring chances in the first half, including a shot by Isaac Moore that was wide by a foot and another by Moore that got by a charging Dillon but was cleared at the last second by Greyhound fullback Jesus Ortiz.
“We press, that’s kind of our thing,” Meechan said.
The second half was more evenly played as Healdsburg limited Analy’s scoring opportunities but couldn’t generate much offense of its own.
“In the first half, Analy was in control,” Lemus said. “We made some adjustments in the second half and we played even with them. We just never had any real clear scoring opportunities.”
The Tigers held a 10-2 shots-on-goal advantage.
“They (Analy) were the better team, absolutely,” Lemus said.
Halfway through the SCL season, both coaches took stock in where their teams are.
“We are doing well,” Meechan said. “We just have to keep everyone healthy.”
For the Greyhounds, who went 1-11 in league play last season, four wins this far is a vast improvement.
“Compared to last year, we are where we want to be,” Lemus said. “It is going to be an interesting second half of the season.”