By MARK DITTMER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
LARKSPUR — Perhaps the best boys soccer season in Roseland University Prep history ended in defeat Saturday afternoon, with the Knights falling to perennial soccer power Marin Academy 2-0 in the North Coast Section Division 2 championship game.
Marin Academy dominated time of possession early and scored the game’s first goal in the 19th minute. Roseland Prep was within striking distance of a tie until the closing minutes, when Dexter Eichhorst provided the final margin with an unassisted goal that was deflected in after hitting the post.
“The better team won,” said Knights freshman Enrique Sanchez.
“They are really good on the ball. They had good touches. I feel bad because I feel like we could have won, like we could have given more, like we didn’t give our all.”
Sanchez may have wished he could have dug deeper, but throughout the game Roseland seemed not out-hustled but outplayed by a bigger, more aggressive Marin Academy team.
“We just ran into a quality opponent today,” said Roseland head coach Tino Fonzeca.
“They’re well-disciplined, they’re skilled. They definitely earned that championship today.”
Indeed, Marin Academy managed to keep the ball on the Roseland Prep half of the field throughout most of the first half. The teams seemed about equal in speed, but Marin Academy had a noticeable size advantage, which may have allowed a more aggressive style.
Still, Roseland Prep stayed close, thanks in large part to the play of goalie Derian Saldana, who was active throughout and made two excellent saves late in the first half to keep his team a goal away from forcing overtime. On one play, Saldana made a deflection after falling down to thwart a Marin Academy goal attempt.
“I lost my balance when I blocked (the first shot),” Saldana said. “They got the rebound, they shot again and I had to lift my elbow up to block it.”
Saldana wasn’t the only one trying to turn the tide in Roseland Prep’s favor. Shortly after Marin Academy’s early goal, Michael Iturbe made a hard tackle of Marin Academy’s Peter Krebs. The tackle earned Iturbe a yellow card, but it also may have helped change the momentum of the game, if only for a few minutes.
“I was trying to motivate the team,” Iturbe said.
“I just wanted to show my teammates that it wasn’t impossible to get a tackle on these guys. They’re not Barcelona.”
Next year, the Knights will be without Iturbe; they will also be missing Javier Anguiano, who came closer than any of his teammates to being at the right place at the right time on Saturday. Anguiano managed three shots on goal in the first half, but Marin Academy goalie Easweh Harrison saved two of them and the third missed wide left.
“It was a great year,” said Anguiano. “I remember my first year, we would always work hard hoping to get to the NCS finals. We got here, so that feels pretty good.”