NCS boys soccer: Analy holds off Rancho

Rancho Cotate's Cristian Gutierrez (18) knocks a header into Analy territory on Wednesday. (ALVIN JORNADA / The Press Democrat)

Rancho Cotate’s Cristian Gutierrez (18) knocks a header into Analy territory on Wednesday.
(ALVIN JORNADA / The Press Democrat)

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

SEBASTOPOL — Taking control in a well-played second half, Analy held off upset-minded Rancho Cotate to move on in the North Coast Section large school boys’ soccer playoffs.

An early goal off a throw-in and pass was enough as Analy withstood some inspired efforts from the visitors and then largely bottled up Rancho Cotate for the 1-0 victory.

See the boys in action here

“It was definitely a tough game,” Saul Valencia, the Tigers’ anchor on the back line, said. “They had some counters, but we just played calm. Our defense was solid.”

The game’s lone score came 10 minutes into the contest. Deep on Rancho Cotate’s side, Gabe Ghirann settled a throw-in and flicked the ball to Ivan Galvan for a header beyond the goalkeeper’s reach.

Rancho Cotate appeared to score the game-tying goal 9 minutes later on a sharp, deep free kick from Kiki Gomez and volley by Aaron Mendoza. But the play was nullified by an offside call.

“We played strong. We were united, helping each other out,” Mendoza said.

Analy now goes to Mill Valley to face Tamalpais in the second round. Tamalpais is the defending section champion. Getting an opening-round match at home was Analy’s reward for a strong season.

Playing fast and confident, Analy pressured Rancho Cotate from the kickoff. Analy marked well, put bodies in front of balls and cut off passes to generate swift counter attacks.

Tigers leading scorer Galvan and fellow forward Ghirann repeatedly streaked down the sides and took crosses from a sturdy midfield led by Luis Corona.

Analy’s goal followed a right-side run that forced a Rancho Cotate clearing boot out of bounds.

“Pushing the ball is definitely something we do well,” Valencia said. “Our forwards are quick.”

After some early chances, Rancho Cotate was often scrambling to keep in front of Analy and hold off scoring opportunities.

Falling behind sparked strong play by Rancho Cotate with the Cougars stringing together possessions and challenging Analy with some well-placed long balls.

Building plays from the back line were hard-working Cristian Gutierrez and Sergio Bobadilla. Their targets were Gomez, a skilled freshman with a nose for the ball, and Mendoza, a sophomore who holds off challenges and creates for teammates.

“We’re a brotherhood and work hard as a team,” Mendoza said.

Still, the Cougars could not break through and were often frustrated in the second half. Analy played like a team loaded with all-league players who don’t want the season to end.

Carrying the ball forward with quick touches and speed pressured the Rancho Cotate defense into long clears, limiting Cougars possessions.

Keeping more players back to cut off passing lanes and playing more organized also helped Analy regain momentum and the win.

“We talked more and controlled the ball more,” Valencia said. “We need to keep doing that and play our game.”

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