The majority of the previous 102 minutes of soccer were frustrating for Arvin and head coach Noah Weber on Friday afternoon at Kern County Soccer Park.
The Bears completely dominated Tulare Union during the opening round of the Boys Elite Division at the 28th Annual Garces Holiday Soccer Festival. They had 13 shots on goal, and Tribe goalkeeper Vicente Mosqueda had eight saves to keep the Bears at bay. Still, the two teams went into the second overtime session tied 0-0.
“It’s tough, but it’s just one of those games,” Weber said. “Sometimes you’ll get 10 shots on goal and the goalie just played amazing. Our boys just love to burn the back of the net.”
But two minutes into the second overtime, Jaylen Magana took an assist from Carlos Norzagaray and scored the game-winner from 20-yards out, as the ball cut to the right corner of the net for the Bears.
“It took them a while to finally flow with what we wanted to do,” Weber said. “We told them at halftime and we told them right before overtime that if we can finish low on this really good goalie, best goalie we’ve faced all year, that we can prevail. And it just showed right there.”
Five times in the first 25 minutes of the match, Mosqueda saved a shot by a Bears player in acrobatic fashion.
Weber kept telling his players from the sideline to take shots on the ground and find the corner of the net, but to no avail until Magana’s goals did just that.
“This means a lot to the team, especially playing in the highest flight in the tournament,” Magana said.
Despite being in Division IV in the Central Section playoffs, Arvin was selected to play in the top division in the two-day tournament. They're the lone local team in the eight-team bracket.
Weber accredits a lot of the team’s success to most of his roster playing together long before high school.
“In or out of high school, these kids are getting coached by some academy or club,” Weber said. “We’re coming in with kids that already have the basic skills mastered. So what we can do is do more technical drills and strategy, and we are way ahead of where we were in the past.”
Arvin is also in the top division partly because the majority of Kern High School District teams did not participate in the nearly three-decade old tournament. Instead, those programs are competing in the KHSD Lions Cup — being played on the other side of town at the Kaiser Permanente Sports Village — or in other tournaments around the state.
“I don’t have any ill will at all for anyone that wants in,” tournament director Vince Fanucchi said. “We have North here and Foothill here, along with Arvin and Kern Valley. It’s not like it’s the whole district.”
While many local teams are not in attendance, Garces did once again pull teams from Fresno, Clovis, Visalia, Tulare, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, West Hills and Chatsworth as part of the 90-team field.
In turn, teams like Arvin get looks at programs outside of Kern County. With that said, Kern County looks to be competitive at all levels this season.
Ridgeview moved up to D-I to join other top programs like South, Golden Valley and Liberty. Meanwhile, Arvin will compete against Mira Monte (still unbeaten at 9-0-2) and McFarland, which beat the Bears in penalty kicks at the Liberty tournament a week ago.
“Every school has a chance with kids in their district that have those skills,” Weber said. “Then you get a reputation and you get kids that were maybe just thinking about joining soccer and now want to do soccer for all four-years. We have a lot of kids that are dedicated. It’s nice to see it spread all over … It’s good to see the competition level rising and rising.”