By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
SEBASTOPOL — A sense of urgency and a sodden field produced entertaining playoff soccer with Analy holding off Healdsburg in another close match between the familiar foes.
After a scoreless first half when Analy’s field still was in decent shape, the teams did all their scoring despite sloppy footing and skidding balls. Analy’s 2-1 win leaves the Tigers the only Sonoma County League team still alive in the large school boys section playoffs.
“We just tried to pass it a bit more and get more opportunities in the second half,” said Analy scoring machine Agustin Reyes. “It’s always hard on a wet field. Your touch is always off.”
While the steady rain neutralized some of Analy’s skilled technical play, the wet conditions also limited Heldsburg’s possession passing game.
“We knew we had to give it our all,” said Healdsburg playmaker Jose Avila. “It was a tough game. We played our style, but the game just didn’t go our way.”
Playing a league foe was not ideal for opening the North Coast Section playoffs.
A close contest was expected. The teams split their league matches, each win by the visitors.
“Healdsburg is a very tough opponent. Both games were close and they beat us in our season finale,” said Analy coach Peter Meechan. “We have a good team spirit and work for each other.”
Improved defense was Healdsburg’s goal going into the game.
“Their direct style of play gives us problems and they are fast in the transition not to mention that they have a very talented group of players,” said Healdsburg coach Herbert Lemus. “We create a lot of scoring opportunities. We needed to raise our level of play.”
Measured in shots on goal, Analy had the better of the first half with Reyes working well on top with Juan Sanchez and Connor Sanchez. The Tigers best chance was an acrobatic scissors kick by Reyes.
The ability of Healdsburg to string together enough possessions helped limit Analy’s scoring chances in the first half. Midfielder Jordan Vega played well both ways, working in tandem with Avila.
Analy went ahead to stay following another run by Reyes nine minutes into the second half. While his shot was cleared, the ensuing corner kick was headed down in the front of the Healdsburg goal where Reyes spun and booted in the score.
Reyes had a chance to give Analy a two goal lead five minutes later. But his penalty kick — Reyes was fouled on the edge of the goal box — hit the left upright.
No problem for the powerful Tigers. Analy gained another penalty kick on a similar foul. This time, Juan Sanchez scored what would be the game winner.
The next sequence had Healdsburg putting on the pressure. A strong corner kick by Avila came back to the forward and he served well into the box for a left footed goal from Oscar Herrera.
“Healdsburg’s a good team. We wanted them,” Reyes said. “We weren’t going to let this game slide.”
The most improved team in SCL play this season couldn’t win to play again.
“It was a great season,” Avila said.