A Tale of Two Halves

The Atascadero Greyhounds and Templeton Eagles boys soccer teams opened their 2021 season on Tuesday night in a league matchup against one another. Tuesday night’s game was the first boys soccer game in the North County this year and was a nonstop firework display as there were four goals scored in both halves of the game, including one in the very first minute of play.

Tuesday’s game was truly a tale of two halves as Templeton controlled the first 40 minutes, putting three goals in the back of the net, while the Greyhounds came charging back in the second half with three goals of their own. Due to the delayed, condensed season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, each team entered their first game of the season with only two weeks of practice and no scrimmages which brought some sloppy play as expected.

“The game kind of went sideways on us a little bit, and we ended up tying 4-4. It was quite a game; I always love playing Atascadero. We were up 3-0 with about 30 seconds to go in the first half, and we gave up a goal and ended up at 3-1. In the second half, well, they scored three, and we scored another one,” Templeton’s head coach Dale Wiggins told the Atascadero News. “We have been at it for the last two weeks, and one of the big differences this year, as compared to other seasons, is that we don’t have any preseason games before our first league game. We normally would have had three scrimmages. As a team and as a coach, it gives you time to figure out players and gives them a chance to learn our playing style, but without that, we were learning on the field.”

While the Eagles had very little time to learn to play together, you would not have been able to tell by their first-half performance. Forty-five seconds after the referee blew his whistle to begin the match, Templeton was already on the board thanks to a 35-yard missile off the foot of junior Gabe Soltero.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Soltero flashed all over the field for Templeton and proved that he is an impact player, scoring not one but two goals on Tuesday night, his second coming as the Eagles’ lone goal in the second half.

Up 1-0, Templeton battled with Atascadero for much of the first half as both teams worked out their early-season kinks, often just missing on passes in the final third of the field. The Eagles added two more goals in the first half to go up 3-0, but Atascadero’s Caleb Newby scored what could be the game’s most important goal with 30 seconds to go in the half, bringing the score to 3-1 and giving the Greyhounds life.

Perhaps the biggest factor in the game Tuesday was not a player or coach but, in fact, the wind. Of the eight goals scored, six were scored on the net closest to the freeway, which was the direction the wind was blowing. In the first half, the Eagles offense looked supercharged, not just shooting but also running with the wind at their backs, and in the second half, it was the Hounds that looked energized.

“The wind, it might not have been as noticeable for the spectators as it was for the players, but the wind last night really dictated the play,” AHS head coach Gary Setting explained. “We were playing uphill and against the wind the whole first half and that goal right before half was huge. It gave us a little momentum shift, and the boys knew they wouldn’t go scoreless. Then we had the wind at our backs in the second half, and it was the tale of two halves; their first half was our second half.”

Atascadero came out of halftime on fire, putting three straight goals, the first from Alex Orosco, the second from Ryan Maclean, and the third from Martin Anguiano, in the net to come from down 3-1 to up 4-3 with around eight minutes to go in the game. From down 3-0, the Hounds were now in the driver’s seat, but just as the Eagles did in the first half, a momentary lapse in concentration allowed their opponents to sneak in a goal before the final buzzer leaving the game tied at 4-4.

Both teams will be back in action on Thursday, looking for their first win of the season. Atascadero will be playing Morro Bay, while Templeton will face off against Nipomo.