Golden Valley Grizzlies boys’ soccer came close to scoring but just fell short to the visiting Pasadena Bulldogs.
The Grizzlies threatened to score numerous times but were held without a goal for the third time this season and fell, 1-0, to the Bulldogs on Wednesday.
Pasadena forward David Vieyra kept piling on the pressure on Golden Valley’s defense throughout the game but it was junior Fabian Reyes who netted the go-ahead goal.
Reyes was able to get into perfect position and headered in a corner kick late in the second half.
The Grizzlies (2-2-3) clawed back onto attack but just couldn’t find a solid look on target in the final 15 minutes.
Striker Will Flint was able to create some space and fired a cross to Jaden Jerushalmi in the final minute of play. Jerushalmi came close to getting a strong shot on target but just missed. The Grizzlies’ final chance was a corner kick off the boot of captain Alex Risdon. The midfielder sent the long kick to the opposite side of the box but the ensuing header was just off target.
Golden Valley created much more pressure in the first half. Pasadena (2-1) controlled the match from the jump, pushing the ball up for the first 10 minutes of action.
“I liked the way we played in the first half a lot better,” said Grizzlies coach Stephen Evison. “There were a lot of times we broke through the middle of the field and then we were just trying to get the ball behind them. That’s not what we were working on. We were working on carrying the ball through midfield.”
Vieyra nearly worked his way up the field for a one-on-one with Grizzlies keeper Gelbert Sandoval after tearing through multiple defenders. However, Golden Valley senior Julio Perez was able to recover and poked the ball away from the crafty forward. The Grizzly backline recovered well and made tons of plays erasing any chance of shots on target.
“It’s not often that you have two Foothill all-league players back for their senior seasons,” Evison said. “Gelbert is just a monster and our defensive line, they really put in the work over summer. We’re going to let teams know we’re going to defend. We’re not just going to give up on plays. We’re going to finish everything through until that ball goes out on the back of the net and we’ll be in your face the entire time. That’s what we’ve been working on and it’s starting to show.”
Sandoval was forced out of the goal to stop an attack early in the second half. It appeared Pasadena sophomore Lithum De Silva was about to get around the keeper, but Sandoval somehow recovered and jumped on top of the loose ball to save the goal.
One of the Grizzlies’ best chances came off the boot of Leon Mikailian. The senior had a deflected shot land in his lap and fired in what would have been a go-ahead goal if not for a nice save by Bulldog keeper Alan Rubio.
It’s been an up-and-down start for the Grizzlies this year. The team has only dropped two of its seven matches thanks to the intact defensive backline. However, while goals have rarely found the Grizzlies’ net, they’ve also been missing on the offensive side.
“Today, I really didn’t like how we played,” Evison said. “I think we just played a bunch of kickball. We’re trying to build a style and we train a certain way. When game time comes, we almost want to win the game in minute one and that’s not how this works. We have to play through the entire 80 minutes.”
Wednesday’s loss marked the third Golden Valley scoreless outing of the season. While scoreless draws are certainly a part of the game, Evison will hope to see his team get into form ahead of Foothill League play next week.
The Grizzlies have two more non-league outings before heading into league play. Golden Valley will have matches with Fillmore and Santa Paula before returning home on Tuesday to host Castaic at 3:15 p.m.
The start to the season has been far from bad but not what Evison expected. The coach still has high aspirations for the team and will aim to lead the group into the playoffs for the second straight year.
“I don’t know what it is this year, it just doesn’t seem the same with my guys,” Evison said. “I just want more. I know that they’re giving me a lot and we’ve done a lot, but I just need to get these guys refocused and help them understand that the season is tough and we’re in the thick of it. We‘re going to figure it out and we’ll get this back on track.”