It was a recipe for frustration: A top scorer missing in a big game, many chances that went unfinished and an opportunistic team on the other sideline.
But to avoid all of that, all Highland’s boys soccer team needed Friday was one vicious strike from Jacob Alatorre. That goal just after halftime lifted the Scots to a 1-0 victory in a key early Southeast Yosemite League game at home.
“He’s demonstrated quite a few times that from 18-25 yards out he can be very dangerous,” Highland coach Danny Kinder said. “One more would have been nice, but this is a good win against a good team.”
The Scots (13-3-1, 2-0 SEYL) had many chances to add that second goal — they enjoyed a 15-3 advantage in shots on goal and dominated possession in the second half — but they’ll walk away happy with a victory anyway.
For one thing, it gives Highland control of the SEYL after a 9-0 victory against Garces in the league opener Wednesday.
For another, it came without Josh Varone, who scored two goals Tuesday but missed this game for personal reasons.
“With him, I think we put a couple more in the back of the net,” Kinder said.
Instead, Tehachapi (14-4, 1-1) had chances into the final minutes, many generated by 26-goal scorer Jose Barajas.
“We had a couple of chances to equalize it, but the pass we were looking for just wasn’t there,” Warriors coach Roger Rijfkogel said. “That’s how it goes sometimes; it’s a funny game.”
Tehachapi opened league play Wednesday with a 1-0 victory at East; Rijfkogel said he’s looking forward to playing Highland and other top SEYL teams at home, where Friday’s 38-degree temperatures could seem warm.
“I want to see them up there,” Rijfkogel said. “This is cold, but it’s something else up there.”
But for now, the Scots have control of the league race.
They tested Tehachapi goalkeeper Zach Satton repeatedly, and though he was usually equal to the task, he had no chance against Alatorre’s strike four minutes into the second half. The ball rose quickly and then knuckled past Satton and into the upper net.
“At halftime we just talked about possessing the ball a little more,” Kinder said. “We were kicking up wildly a bit in the first half and we wanted a little more possession.”
Now the Scots hit the road for four of their next five matches, a stretch that ends in Tehachapi on Jan. 30. Kinder, who’s in his first year, thinks his team can compete for a league title and then in the Central Section Division III playoffs.
“As a first-year coach, I came in not really knowing what to expect,” Kinder said. “It’s been a pleasant surprise. The strength of our team is that all of these guys come to play every night.
“We knew Tehachapi had some good goal-scorers and what they were capable of. This was a nice win.”