After a devastating 5-1 loss to league rival Richmond on Tuesday, the Berkeley High boys’ soccer team could have done two things: come back and play harder than ever, or go into the toilet against a weak opponent. They chose the former.
All negative feelings over the loss were washed away with a 7-0 whipping of Pinole Valley (1-6-1 ACCAL) on Thursday. Senior Stefan Isaksen got a first-half hat trick, then sat for the second half with most of his senior teammates, as head coach Eugenio Juarez took advantage of a 5-0 halftime score to try out some of his younger players.
Most of the first half was played in a driving rainstorm, but the ’Jackets (11-5 overall, 7-2 ACCAL) somehow caught fire anyway. It took all of nine minutes for them to run up a 3-0 lead, with the opening salvo coming just four minutes in. Isaksen took a feed from senior captain Tiago Venturi and slammed the ball past Spartan goalkeeper Tim Torres from 10 yards out.
Freshman Kamani Hill scored the next two goals in the seventh and ninth minutes, both off of assists by Venturi. Isaksen scored on a solo effort soon after, and wrapped up the first-half scoring from yet another assist by Venturi in the 29th minute.
“We knocked the ball around well in the first half and kept possession,” Juarez said. “It looked like we were just playing with them for a while.”
That ease led Juarez to pull most of his starters, including Isaksen, Venturi and goalkeeper Andrew Kelley, but it made little difference. The younger Berkeley players kept possession for most of the second half, as the Spartans started to look more and more weary. Torres began screaming at his defenders, and with good reason. He was forced to make several spectacular saves on wide-open Berkeley shots, and only his heroism kept the score 5-0 for almost the entire half. Venturi re-entered the game with 10 minutes left, and immediately created chances for himself and his teammates.
“This was a great way to come back from the loss,” Venturi said. “This builds our confidence going into Alameda next week.”
Alameda dealt the ’Jackets their first loss of the ACCAL season earlier this year.
Just when it looked as if the Spartans would manage a scoreless second half, Berkeley midfielder Liam Reilly took center stage. The junior streaked ahead for a breakaway and scored with 2:16 on the clock, and waited all of 30 seconds to score his second, beating two defenders on the way.
“Our young guys didn’t play badly out there, they just couldn’t ring up the scores for a while,” Juarez said.