AHS will graduate five seniors this year, but next year’s team still shows promise

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Greyhound boys’ soccer completed one of, if not the best, season in school history this spring by finishing the season with ten straight wins as the undefeated Ocean League Champions at 10-0-2. Following their historic run, the boys entered the CIF Central Section Division 2 playoffs as a No. 4 overall seed and had a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Thursday, AHS hosted no. 5 seed Redwood in their second-round matchup but ran out of magic falling 4-0.

Due to the unique spring season with the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the Central Section has fewer teams than the Southern Section, the top five seeds in the Division 2 playoffs all earned first-round byes, meaning Thursday’s game was also Redwood’s first of the postseason.

The Rangers got on the board early and kept the pressure on the Hounds, who, at times, seemed to be spending too much time trying to plead with the officials rather than get back on defense. The first goal, which happened in the eighth minute, came via a corner kick that looked to all in orange as a clear offsides call. A lone Ranger stood in front of the keeper, appearing that no one was keeping him onsides. However, there was no whistle from the official, and the Hounds were down 1-0 early.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Throughout their perfect regular season, the Hounds had played in all types of games and have faced far greater deficits than 1-0. After the initial shock of the early goal, the Hounds got back into their offense and generated their best look of the half about ten minutes later. Senior midfielder Martin Anguiano hit a perfect pass to a sprinting Julio Lopez, who headed it over a charging goalie into the net. Still, it would not count as the officials accused the Hounds of being offsides.

The emotional swing seemed to have given the Rangers the small crease they needed; a few minutes later, Redwood’s Ernesto Pacheco buried a shot in the bottom of the net from outside the 18-yard box, and the Hounds were down 2-0.

Atascadero’s striker Ryan Maclean would also get a few opportunities, but never any looks quite good enough to finish as Redwood played strong defense in the final third all evening.

The Rangers would add one more goal in the first half, off a gargantuan throw-in that landed in the six-yard box and was promptly deposited into the back of the net.

While the magical season is finally over for the Hounds, there might be another on the horizon. This season the Greyhounds had an experienced team but not necessarily an old team. Atascadero will graduate five seniors, including two of their top goal scores in Martin Anguiano and Ryan Maclean, the two combined for 23 goals, but will return the central nucleus of their team and their best distributor in Lopez.

This season the AHS seniors accounted for 28 total goals while all others combined for 19. However, the younger boys were specialists in setting up their teammates and will look for their opportunities next year.