In a match that was not nearly as close as the final score indicates, Jacksonville successfully opened the District 16-5A campaign by defeating Pine Tree, 3-2, on a chilly Friday night at the Historic Tomato Bowl.
The Tribe (9-3-1, 1-0) collected 25 shots to the Pirates' 14, and won the battle of shots on goal, 12-5.
Jacksonville led 2-1 at intermission and increased the margin to 3-1 with 21:12 left in the match after Lizandro Escareno booted the ball in (top shelf) from 26 yards out.
That's where the score stayed until a Pirate launched a shot from about 50 yards out that somehow got past the Tribe defenders and keeper, Juan Hernandez.
The Pine Tree score came with 2:42 showing on the clock.
The late Pine Tree goal certainly did not please Jacksonville head boys soccer coach, Rudy Jaramillo.
“Aside from the win, the thing that we gained from this game was that when we get lax and don't stay focused mentally, bad things happen,” he said.
“This is a tough district and on any given night any team is capable of beating the other. Hopefully we learned that we have to play to our full capability for 80 minutes.”
Pine Tree (2-3-5, 0-1) also scored the first goal of the evening when a Pirate recorded a successful shot with 34:17 left in the opening segment.
The score came when Hernandez came up to play the ball and the Jacksonville defenders failed to back up, leaving a wide-opened goal mouth.
“We had a mental lapse at that point; all of our guys were not focused,” Jaramillo said.
Jacksonville concluded the first half on a positive note, however.
Martin Escareno gave the home team its first point when he shot the ball off the side of his foot from 12 yards out, beating the the Pirate goal keeper, Octavio Jacquez, to his right side.
The score came with 18:45 left in the opening period.
Just over three minute later Jose Solano came rushing in from the flank and tapped in a loose ball from 5 yards out that allowed the Tribe to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Jaramillo said that he was pleased with his club's effort on the offensive side.
“Offensively, we played really well,” he said. “I know he didn't score, but Jaylon Freeney deserves a lot of credit, because he was being double teamed and that allowed some of other guys some opportunities coming off of the outside.”
Jacksonville will trek to John Tyler on Tuesday. The match will get under way at 7 p.m.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Jacksonville 1, Pine Tree 0.