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A Season-Defining Week
Men's Soccer Team

The men’s soccer team, playing amidst the brisk afternoon in San Francisco, showcased its maturity with a resounding 4-2 victory over Stuart Hall in a winner-takes-all game last Friday. 

Stuart Hall needed a win to qualify for the BCL West League Playoffs, while the Panthers could do so with a win or draw. From the first whistle, the Panthers dominated possession of the ball and controlled the tempo of the match; that much was evident from the casual onlooker. That frustrated the Stuart Hall supporters as their team couldn't get anywhere near the ball. The Panthers methodically picked them apart as they tried pressing.

The Panthers went up 1-0 in the 13th minute of the game, courtesy of a great team goal starting in our defensive third of the field, with Rafa G. ’25 unleashing a shot from 25 yards out. Stuart Hall tied the match shortly after that from the penalty spot after an ill-timed 50-50 challenge inside the box. With the score tied 1-1, the Panthers scored a second goal in the 49th minute when Robert S. ’24 and Rafa G. ’25 combined in the middle of the pitch. Robert drove forward, beat a center back in open space off the dribble, and passed it to Ridwaan A. ’26, who was sprinting forward to join the attack. He spun the defender with his first touch and unleashed a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that took a deflection on its way to the net, wrong-footing the keeper and making the score 2-1. 

The Panthers scored again in the 57th minute from a short corner. Robert S. ’24 and Rafa G. ’25 combined again with the Stuart Hall defenders falling asleep after minutes of chasing shadows. Rafa played the across-the-box, and it somehow found its way to Gui G. ’27 while he was on the ground. He swiped at it while on the ground, and it found its way to the net.  

Stuart Hall made it interesting, scoring a scrappy set-piece goal and making the match 3-2 in the 67th minute. However, the Panthers again pulled ahead with another goal in the 69th minute when Gui capitalized on a great ball in transition from Rafa. His hard and low shot across the face of the goal whisked past the keeper, sealing the 4-2 victory.

Reflecting on the victory, Coach T expressed his pride in the team’s mindset leading up to the match, emphasizing their understanding of its significance and ability to deliver when it mattered most. “I'm happy for the boys. It’s been a season filled with many ups and downs, so for them to respond this way and get a win to secure a playoff spot in the season's final match will serve as a confidence booster going into playoffs.”

The team now sets its sights on the upcoming challenges, diligently preparing for the BCL West League semi-final against cross-town rivals Marin Academy on Wednesday, February 7th, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. A win in this encounter will propel them to the finals, where they will vie for the coveted title of BCL West Regular Season Champion.

With the team entering the NCS playoffs for the third consecutive year under Coach T, it’s looking to accomplish another goal: to test themselves against the best teams in Division 4 and advance past the first round of the NCS playoffs.