With a corner kick coming up midway through the second half of a tied game against Valley, the Pahrump Valley High School boys soccer team had no need to reach deep into its bag of tricks.
The Trojans had the right plan ready to go.
Christian Gonzalez sent a perfect corner kick toward the far post, where Jose Chavez — generally a head taller than most opposing players — was waiting to head it downward in the direction of Fernando Martinez-Fontana, who calmly put the ball into the net from point-blank range to lift the Trojans to a 3-2 victory over the Vikings in a Class 3A Sunset League game Tuesday in Pahrump.
“We had like seven plays prepared for corners,” Martinez-Fontana said. “We’re good at it. We’ve scored several times with them. Christian centered the ball for Jose, he headed it, and I was there at the right moment and I scored.”
If he makes it sound simple, it might be because he and his teammates are well-prepared.
“We have a lot of set pieces where we work on corner kicks and off throw-ins,” Pahrump Valley coach Chris Roberts said. “We’re very meticulous with what we do. We set up diversions to camouflage what we do and send balls into dangerous areas and have people running into them.”
The action in the first half made it seem as if the game would be a shootout. Right from the start, Valley started piling up scoring chances, although few were high-quality opportunities. In the first minute a ball rolled right across the front of the Trojans’ goal, and four minutes later Pahrump Valley keeper Ian Kingsley had to reach high in the air to gather in a ball off of one of his own defender’s feet.
But it was the Trojans who scored first. Two pretty passes set up Martinez-Fontana for a Pahrump Valley goal in the eighth minute.
“Coach told me several times to make that run diagonally, so I tried to do it and it worked,” the junior forward said. “It was nice pass from my teammate, Alvaro (Garcia), and it was a good goal.
“I just knew what I had to do. I shot it with my left, and I’m happy because I’m right-footed.”
But the next two goals were scored by the visitors, both by junior Samuel Milenge. The first came after a giveaway near midfield, one of several the Trojans had during the first half, and the second came after Milenge outmaneuvered a defender to set up an easy shot.
“We made some stupid mistakes early, which they capitalized on,” Roberts said. “We just needed to keep focused and keep pushing forward.”
Pushing forward certainly helped the Trojans (7-4-1, 3-1 Class 3A Sunset League) tie the game, as a short scramble in front of the net was ended when Garcia tapped the ball home with about 13 minutes left in the half. But after four goals in the first 27 minutes, nobody would score again for the next 32, when the Trojans executed that picture-perfect corner kick.
Garcia, Gonzalez and Chavez each were credited with one assist, while Kingsley made three saves. Holding the Vikings (2-5, 0-2) scoreless for more than 50 minutes was a team effort, but Roberts had praise for sophomore midfielder Rafael Nunez.
“Rafa played really well,” said Roberts, whose team has won more games than it did in the past two seasons combined and owns as many Sunset League wins as it totaled in the previous three. “We had one of our defenders go out hurt, and he came out and stepped up big for us in the back and controlled their outside right winger. He played really well.”
The Trojans won their second consecutive game after having their six-game unbeaten streak ended abruptly by Western 7-1 last Thursday.
“Overall, we’re looking good,” Roberts said. “We had a little setback against Western, but right now we’re second in the league and in a good spot. We take it one game at a time, that’s the way we look at it.”
“I think we are a good team,” Martinez-Fontana said. “We’re prepared, we work hard, we’ve done a lot of conditioning this year, and we get along really well. This team is going to work and be ready for state.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@pvtimes