AHS controls its own destiny for league title

NORTH COUNTY — The Atascadero Greyhounds and Templeton Eagles met up on Thursday night for the biggest boys soccer game in the county to this point in the 2021 spring season as they battled for first place in the Ocean League. The two teams tied in their opener 4-4, but the Greyhounds came out on top at home Thursday, narrowly defeating the Eagles 2-1.

Every game between these two teams has become an instant classic, and Thursday’s game was no different. Due to the special 2021 COVID-19 spring season, neither of the teams were able to play preseason games this year and were instead given a schedule of just 12 league games, making every single game so important because one loss could be all it takes to finish in second place.

Alex Orosco flies through the air to win a header against Templeton on Thursday

On Mar. 23, these two teams played in Templeton in a bit of a wind storm that turned into an offensive explosion in the season opener. The game in Templeton began with the Eagles jumping out to an early lead, up 3-1 at halftime, with the Greyhounds playing catchup in the second; however, the script was flipped in the second meeting of the two as it was the Greyhounds that took the early lead at home.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Both teams entered the game red hot and without a loss on their record. Following the tie to kick off the season, Templeton won five straight games in an absolutely dominating fashion. During their win streak, the Eagles outscored their opponents 23-4, scoring as many as nine goals in one game, and recorded three shutouts in the streak.

The Greyhounds followed up the season-opening tie with another road tie to Morro Bay 1-1 before going on a winning streak of their own for four consecutive games. In the three games before the matchup with the Eagles, Atascadero outscored their opponents 12-4, scoring four goals in three straight games.

Thursday’s matchup was one where truly something had to give, and while many might have thought it would be another shootout, it became a defensive struggle, especially in the second half.

Atascadero’s Martin Anguiano and Templeton’s Mario Calderon fight for the ball near midfield

For the first 20 minutes of the game, it was scoreless as both teams tried to establish their tempo and rhythm while also not giving up any kind of cheap goal. Once the nerves had settled a bit, the Hounds began attacking. Senior captain Martin Anguiano, who has been a key contributor on the varsity team since his freshman year, began probing around the Eagle defense looking for soft spots and finally found one down the right sideline.

Anguiano looked up and saw his 6-foot-3-inch forward Ryan Maclean standing near the six-yard box and played into him, and Maclean did the rest, putting the Hounds up 1-0.

With a lead, the Greyhounds kept the pressure on, and once again, Anguiano made something happen with quick feet. Just a few minutes after the first goal, Anguiano ripped a shot that was blocked by the Templeton keeper but ricocheted back into play. Maclean raced after the ball, trying to take a shot of his own, but was also blocked. The ball bounced away from the net but found itself rolling unattended towards an awaiting Jackson Bedell, who put the ball into the empty net giving the Hounds a 2-0 lead with about 15 minutes to go in the first half.

Junior captain, Julio Lopez, tries to navigate through the Eagle defense

Down 2-0, the Eagles cranked the pressure up and began to flip the field position battle, eventually earning a corner kick for their own side. The Eagles hit a perfect pass into the box, and freshman Rocco Chalekson soared to get it. With the goal, Templeton cut the lead down to only one but was never quite able to put another goal in the back of the net.

Atascadero now controls their own destiny in the Ocean League and can win the title if they win out this spring. However, Tuesday night, the Hounds have another massive game against Morro Bay, this time at home. Should Atascadero be able to get past the Pirates, they will have a great shot at finishing the season unbeaten.

The Eagles will now need a little help from the Hounds while also taking care of their business. Templeton will also continue their season Tuesday night as they host Nipomo.