NCS boys soccer: Title shot slips away for Montgomery

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Montgomery keeper Jordan Page stops a corner kick during Saturday’s NCS Division 1 soccer championship.(Photo by Alvin Jornada, The Press Democrat)

Montgomery keeper Jordan Page stops a corner kick during Saturday’s NCS Division 1 soccer championship.(Photo by Alvin Jornada, The Press Democrat)

ROHNERT PARK — A dominant midfield attack helped the Montgomery boys soccer team control long stretches of Saturday’s championship match against Tamalpais.

The Vikings, however, had a persistent thorn in their side: Tamalpais’ Lucas Janetos. Montgomery had no answer for the skilled playmaker, who figured in each Tamalpais score, and helped lead the Red Tailed Hawks to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory in the North Coast Section Division 1 boys soccer championship match.

The clean, well-played game was decided in the final 20 minutes. Tamalpais tied the game at 2-2 on a Janetos volley after he cut off a clearing attempt in close. Then Janetos struck again, setting up the winning header with a well-placed free kick.

“We know how to deal with adversity. We were just able to keep our heads and rally back,” Janetos said.

Montgomery didn’t hang its head after the loss, and heaped praise on the opponent.

“We played as a unit. We had heart and played with passion,” said Julio Chavez, the Vikings’ anchor on the back line. “Tamalpais is a heck of a team.”

Tamalpais defended its North Coast Section Boys Division 1 championship, matching Montgomery’s consecutive titles in 2010 and 2011.

Montgomery was the better team early and played with a sense of urgency much of the match.

With one- and two-touch passing and long sideline runs, Montgomery took the game to Tamalpais for the game’s first 10 minutes.

The opening score came on a side switching play, one of many such possessions that had Tamalpais scrambling. Alex Gomez took the ball on the right side, moved across the field unmarked and banged home a long shot into the left corner.

“Montgomery moves the ball in the midfield incredibly,” Janetos said. “Their early goal was a wake-up call.”

Working to match Montgomery’s effort, Tamalpais strung together several possessions. Janetos and Jackson Wong were the energizers and Teddy Mauze was the big target in the middle.

Montgomery’s back line, led by Chavez and Martin Macias, turned back Tamalpais’ push. Montgomery’s defenders were offensive forces as well, getting balls quickly ahead on counters or on runs by Macias.

Leading 1-0 at the half, Montgomery players recognized the advantage would not be enough.

“We all knew a one-goal lead was nothing. It just gave us a little momentum,” Chavez said.

Bringing more pressure early in the second half, Tamalpais evened the score eight minutes into the period.

Carrying the ball up the left side, Janetos sent a long cross on a low angle to Mauze for a firm header into the Montgomery goal.

The Vikings got a lift from its deep bench, in particular Oscar Soto. The skilled, quick forward pestered the Tamalpais defense and during a moment when the Tamalpais defense lost track of Soto, Evan Martinez settled a long serve and slid the ball left in the box to Soto for Montgomery’s second score.

“We all wanted this game,” Chavez said.

So too did Tamalpais.

Inside 15 minutes to play, Tamalpais evened the game when Janetos took a Montgomery clear inside the box off the chest and quickly booted the ball to the back of the net.

A foul by Montgomery on the Vikings sideline set up Tamalpais for the game winner. The free kick was far out, some 30 yards, but serving on a line drive, Janeto’s kick met the forehead of a leaning Mauze for the deciding goal.

Tamalpais won a section title in Sonoma County for the second year in a row, having defeated top seed Maria Carrillo in the finals a year ago.

“To come up here and make a statement like that feels fantastic,” Janetos said.

Montgomery did not lose so much as Tamalpais took the match when the outcome was on the line.

“We came out with focus. We were ready,” Chavez said. “They got a couple of goals that were tough. That’s soccer.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

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