By Jeremy Balan
Lowell High School hasn’t exactly played the Academic Athletic Association’s elite in the early season, but against its best competition yet, the Cardinals looked every bit like the defending AAA champs.
Lowell extended its AAA winning streak to 23 games with a dominating 6-0 win over visiting San Francisco International on Tuesday.
Lowell seniors Cameron BaSaing and Max Pollard both scored two goals apiece, but the Cardinals’ most effective weapon was the foot of junior defender Avery Fisher.
The Cardinals (5-0 in AAA) scored off three corner kicks from Fisher in the first half to build a 5-0 lead at the break.
“We were working the corners today. They were just working for us,” Fisher said. “I usually look for Max [Pollard] or just send them into the middle at good header height and hope someone gets on the other end of it.”
Fisher found his favorite target in the 30th minute, when Pollard simply outjumped the SFI defense to hammer home a header.
“He’s always been dangerous in the air and he’s really great at reading the path of the ball,” Lowell head coach Marcos Estebez said of Pollard, who is also a varsity basketball player. “Sometimes I wonder if he’s going to just jump up and dunk it.”
Pollard also led an athletic Lowell midfield that repeatedly intercepted SFI clearance attempts, while Fisher was a part of the Cardinals back line that limited the Huskies to just two shots on goal, both from considerable distance.
“Lucas [Decena] is our center back and he’s very quick, and they’re all good in the air,” Estebez said of the Lowell defense. “We’re lucky that we have players that are willing to attack balls in the air.”
Pollard and Fisher may have had better all-around games, but BaSaing, the Cardinals’ leading scorer, laid claim to one of the best plays of the year in the 59th minute.
After another deflected SFI clearance, BaSaing saw the ball bounce directly to him as he was streaking up the right sideline. With a defender on his left hip, BaSaing rifled a right-footed shot from 15 yards out into the extreme top-right corner that had no chance of being saved.
BaSaing has scored 10 goals on the year, with at least one in each game.
“No [goalkeeper] is going to get that, and we were a little nervous, because the nets are brand-new and we didn’t want a hole in one in the first game,” Estebez said. “This is the first year we’ve had him healthy, and I always knew he had potential, but I didn’t know what it would look like.”
While Lowell played impressively, the Huskies (2-2-1 in AAA) struggled to break through Lowell’s defense, but saw scoring chances increase in the late stages.
“They’re the best team we’ve played and the best team I’ve seen,” said SFI head coach Brandon Garinger. “There were a couple of bright spots. Just a couple in about 80 minutes. We’re not close to this team, to be honest.”
Estebez also put the lopsided result into perspective, and knows the Cardinals’ upcoming AAA schedule will only get more challenging, beginning with fellow undefeated Balboa on Thursday.
“We haven’t played Mission, Balboa, O’Connell or Lincoln, and we know there are a lot of good teams out there,” Estebez said. “It’s still a work-in-progress. Sometimes we connect the dots and it looks really beautiful, and at times we force the issue and it’s ugly. So, we’re trying to get more beautiful and less ugly.”