By Mike Bebernes
Junior Midfielder Marco Caballero scored four goals and assisted on two others to lead Mission High School in a 9-1 rout of an undermanned O’Connell team on Thursday at Kezar Stadium.
The win gives the Bears (1-2, 1-0) the Yao Cup for the second consecutive year and also gave them their first Academic Athletic Association win of the season.
The Bears scored early and often against an O’Connell (0-1, 0-1) squad that was missing the majority of its top players due to academic ineligibility.
Mission head coach Scott Kennedy has high aspirations for his team and was encouraged to start off the AAA season with a big win.
“[The win] is good for the morale of everybody and I think it sends a message to the league that we’re ready to play,” Kennedy said. “The goal is to go undefeated every year.”
Mission got on the board in the 13th minute when Caballero sent a perfectly-placed pass across the face of goal that led to a point-blank shot by sophomore forward Tan Ngoc Lee. Seven minutes later, Caballero looped a pass over two defenders to give senior midfielder Nery Martinez a breakaway, which he finished by beating the O’Connell goalkeeper to the near post.
Caballero then began scoring himself late in the first half with two goals in three minutes. Both goals, a tap-in header and a skidding near-post shot, were set up by great passes from teammates.
“I don’t look at it that [Caballero] dominated. He had a good game. Everything pretty much went his way, but I look at it as a team. It’s a team effort,” Kennedy sad.
Around halftime, a dense fog rolled onto the field, lowering visibility and making the field slick. The Boilermakers scored their lone goal when the Mission goalkeeper appeared to lose track of a corner kick from Jose Carmona and the ball bounced off the goalkeeper into the net.
Mission benefited from a similar incident just after half when a Caballero corner kick disappeared into the mist only to appear again in the net as confused players from both teams looked on. The corner gave Caballero his forth goal of the evening and added to a surge of four Mission goals in the opening ten minutes of the second half. The Bears also got goals from junior Irvin Herrera, senior Nelson Martinez and junior Mario Ruiz Reyes.
Much of the result can be attributed to the lack of experience of the O’Connell squad on the field. For eligibility reasons, the players on the pitch barely resembled the Boilermaker team that qualified for the AAA playoffs last year.
“You deal with what you have,” said O’Connell head coach Bob Gamino. “Right now our top 11 players are in the bleachers.”
The Bears and Boilermakers have consistently been two of the top teams in the AAA in recent years. Neither coach believes Thursday’s lopsided result is indicative of the rivalry.
“Mission and O’Connell, both teams come and they bring it,” Kennedy said. “I know O’Connell will be different when we play them again. It will be a completely different team and a completely different outcome I’m sure.”