By Jeremy Balan
As a first-year program, so much about San Francisco International High School is unknown, but it would be difficult to envision a better beginning.
The Huskies’ boys soccer team, playing in the school’s first varsity event, routed Marshall 7-0 on Thursday in Academic Athletic Association play at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields.
“It was great to see everyone come out and support us, all of the students, the faculty — heck, we even had our custodian out here,” said SFI athletic director Jose Urista. “Everybody’s involved and happy we have a team. Hopefully we’ll keep it going and they get better every week.”
The barrage of scoring started almost immediately, on a goal in the third minute by junior forward Osmar Zapotecas off a deft pass in between Marshall defenders by fellow junior Medhani Berih.
The goal would foreshadow the rest of the game, as Zapotecas tallied three goals and Berih, a playmaking midfielder, added three assists.
“It turned into a passing bonanza, which is what we want,” said SFI coach Brandon Garinger.
Zapotecas’ third goal, which extended the Huskies’ lead to 6-0 in the 53rd minute, was again assisted by Berih on a give-and-go play that put Zapotecas in the penalty area unmarked.
“We were just having fun,” Berih said. “It feels good, because everyone from our school is here supporting us and we won the first time.”
Zapotecas controlled the middle of the field, led a possession dominant SFI attack and may have the makings of a AAA star.
“He has so many raw skills and talents,” Garinger said. “I think he could even be a college soccer player if that’s something he really wanted. He could have had seven goals today.”
The only thing that tempered the Huskies’ win was the fact that Marshall played most of the game with just nine players and had extended periods where they played with eight due to injuries.
The Phoenix hardly mounted any attack and their lone scoring opportunity came when sophomore Jessie Malagon lofted a ball just over the crossbar from 35 yards out in the 22nd minute.
“It was grades. Sixteen or 17 players who don’t have grades [now] played last year,” said Marshall head coach Antonio Irizarry. “But they hung in there, and the kids came out to support their team.”
One of the lone bright spots for the Phoenix was the play of goalkeepers Cesar Castnon and Jayner Martinez, who held off the Husky attack with a combined 13 saves.
Regardless of the circumstances, Garinger and SFI are riding high and looking to the future.
“We have players from all over the world and they’re all coming to this team with a slightly different influence,” Garinger said. “To be honest, I think a lot of other teams are a little afraid of that. We’re a little bit of an underdog and we have a good future ahead of us.”