By Jeremy Balan
Mission High School’s boys soccer team didn’t take long to get its feet wet.
Its first opponent of the season, Marin Catholic of Kentfield, won the Marin County Athletic League last season, along with the CIF-North Coast Section Division I title.
Mission (0-1) didn’t win, but showed considerable promise in a 2-1 loss to the Wildcats (1-0) on Tuesday at Mission High School.
“I’m really happy with what we did today, but we’ve got to get better,” said Mission head coach Scott Kennedy. “We’re still trying to figure out who’s going where.”
Marin Catholic largely controlled possession throughout, but Mission senior goalkeeper Jose Guevara-Fuentes kept the Bears within striking distance with a staggering 13 saves.
“It was insane,” Kennedy said. “He put on a clinic.”
Seven of Guevara-Fuentes’ saves came in a scoreless second half and many where acrobatic and 1-on-1 opportunities.
“I don’t know where he came from, but that guy is a stud,” said Marin Catholic head coach Paul Makovec of Guevara-Fuentes. “A couple of those he was in the right place at the right time, but he made a lot of huge saves. He definitely kept them in it.”
Mission appeared to make a bid for the upset when they opened the scoring in the 12th minute on a volleyed goal from junior forward Milton Rossini, but Marin Catholic responded just a minute later on a goal from Ben Rupers to tie the score at 1-1.
Then, in the 38th minute, Marin Catholic forward put the go-ahead goal past Guevara-Fuentes, after he had difficulty controlling a rebound.
Marin Catholic applied most of the pressure in the second half and Mission’s opportunities were limited, but they did have one golden chance come up just short.
In the 47th minute, a Mission player was fouled in the penalty area and the Bears were awarded a penalty kick.
Mission senior Dorian Isia Rosales took the kick and made solid contact, but the shot was saved. The rebound then caromed right back to Rosales who had a wide open net in front of him, but Rosales’ try coasted just wide of the left post.
Even with the win, Marin Catholic has a considerably different team this season, losing its top three scorers from last season’s NCS championship team. The Wildcats are still looking for players to take over that leadership role.
“A win is a win, but if we miss four or five chances and they go down at the other end and get a PK, we could have easily been in a position to lose that game even though we probably outplayed them,” Makovec said. “It was disappointing for our guys, just because we lost (so many goal scorers) from last year, these guys want to get goals.”
For Mission, which has 13 underclassmen on its roster, these non-league games are important steps if the team wants to make a repeat visit to the AAA championship game.
“They’re a tough team and it was a great test,” Kennedy said. “We played Friday and it was a scrimmage of shell-shock and fear factor. So there was a big difference from Friday, which is a big positive.”
M – 12th minute: Milton Rossini
MC – 13th minute: Ben Rupers
MC – 38th minute: Nuri Bon-Acosta