The Cougars never hit their stride in the win column as they finished the season 1-16-1 including a 7-2 defeat to Harbor High school in the final game of the season, Monday, Feb. 17.
However, the team’s record did not deter them from playing hard.
”The one thing we do is we never give up,” said junior captain Garrett Kustin. “This team, they always stay up and positive. They play to have fun.”
Kustin, normally the goalkeeper, offered his spot to senior Kjell Johnson in the last game of the season, so that Johnson could get on the field for the first time.
Johnson, the leading scorer for the Cougar soccer team in the 2012-2013 campaign, suffered a groin injury during the football season that caused him to miss nearly the entire soccer season. In the final game against Harbor, the groin had healed enough to allow him to play keeper with Kustin moving to midfield.
“Goalie is the only thing I can do right now,” Johnson said after the game. “It’s harder than it looks.”
In the first half, the Pirates went up 2-0 and the game looked like it might be a blowout, akin to the 9-0 Harbor win the last time the two teams played.
However, the Cougars went on the attack and a Harbor foul netted a free kick from 35 yards out. Kustin took the kick and floated a ball into the sun and toward the goal. The keeper bobbled the ball and allowed junior Mitchell Kamau to get a foot on it and find the back of the net.
“The sun was right in the keeper’s eyes,” Kustin said. “I hoped he would bobble it and it worked out.”
Harbor’s offense came to life after that, scoring three more times before half to make it 5-1.
In the second half, SLV got on the board again when senior Robbie D’Amato rushed the net from his position at fullback and got his foot on a low, driving corner kick from Kamau and found the back of the net.
“I don’t think I was supposed to be there, to be honest with you,” D’Amato, in his first year playing soccer for the school. “The credit goes to Mitch (Kamau). I just kind of ran and it hit my leg,” he said.
It was D’Amato’s first goal of the season, and of his career.
Harbor scored twice more, but Johnson stopped a number of other scoring opportunities, ending the game with 11 saves.
Coach Dave Okrant was pleased with the Cougar’s effort.
“I thought we played well in the second half,” Okrant said.
For the season, the Cougars were led by senior Jordan Peabody who joined the team in late December and scored three goals. Additionally, senior Adam Lopez had the best skill set on the team and senior Kaleo Bachiller was a key cog, rarely coming out of games, Okrant said.
The young varsity team also had a half-dozen sophomores and Okrant said the junior varsity team also had a good group of sophomores who will come up to varsity next season.