Boys Soccer: Gateway wins second-consecutive BCL Central title over International

Gateway sophomore Giovanni Luna eyes a loose ball in the BCL Central championship game against International on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

By Jeremy Balan

Before every game, Gateway High School’s boys soccer head coach Joe Killmaier makes a gut decision.

His best player, senior Fauris Franco, can be equally impactful as a goal-scoring forward and a goal-stopping goalkeeper.

In the Bay Counties League Central championship game against International, Killmaier put him in net, and the decision payed off in the Gators’ 3-1 win to clinch their second consecutive league title on Thursday at Kezar Stadium.

The Gateway soccer team celebrates with head coach Joe Killmaier after their win over International in the BCL Central championship game on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

Franco had six huge saves in the win, and a group of quick, crafty Gateway midfielders scored three unanswered goals after International took a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

“It’s a feeling, and if we feel we need him in there, that’s where I put him,” Killmaier said of Franco. “He’s just as valuable in the field as he is in the goal. It’s a championship game and we wanted to make sure we had a solid keeper in there because they have a guy who can score at any moment.”

That guy is International senior forward Kai Leshne, who was double and triple-teamed throughout the match, and only had one shot on target.

“They marked him really well,” International head coach Carlos Bover said of the Gators’ defense on Leshne. “For anybody who has three people on them, it doesn’t matter how good you are. We tried to move him around, but they followed him everywhere.”

Gateway’s defensive game plan appeared to be faulty early on, however, when the Jaguars targeted Leshne on a long throw-in from junior Taj Millot. The Gators converged on Leshne, but the ball bounced right to unmarked junior Maxwell Drolet, who put the ball off the crossbar and into the net to give International a 1-0 lead.

Gateway equalized in the 18th minute, when junior Ricardo Mendoza tapped in a rebound off a free kick from Marlon Morales, then took the lead for good four minutes later, when sophomore Giovanni Luna broke past the International back line and snuck the ball past goalkeeper Lucas Harrell. Gateway put the game out reach of in the 59th minute on the second half’s only goal from senior midfielder Paul Bustamonte.

“We had to give up an early goal to get going,” Killmaier said. “We just know we can come back.”

The win gives Gateway another BCL Central title, and both teams will receive bids to the North Coast Section Division V II tournament, but ends what has become one of the City’s best soccer rivalries, as International will move to the Bay Counties League West next season.

“We’re going to miss them,” Bover said. “Hopefully we’ll [arrange] to play them in [nonleague games], but we will miss them, for sure.”

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  1. Forza IHS says:

    Kilmaier’s nonsensical remarks that have nothing to do with soccer are always pretty hilarious. ” We just know we can come back.” The past two years it’s been whoeever scores first wins Joe…I guess except this year..I also think someone should check his roster out. Somehow, a couple key kids always make grade for the final. Good luck in BCL Central next year gateway. Congrats on the title. Well won! However International will always been the classier program as a whole.

  2. Gwhs says:

    @ Forza IHS…joe killmaiers roster is all academically eligible, in fact gateway has very strict academic requirements for student athletes, and IHS is not a classy program.

  3. Unbiased says:

    Silly to downplay Gateway’s achievements. Congratulations to them. They deserve it.

    But I’m just interested in the comments saying that International is not a classy program? What makes you say that?

    Regardless, good job to both teams.

    And @jbalan, Drolet is actually a senior.

  4. Lowell House says:

    Idk about the class of the program as a whole, but when Lowell played them waaaay at the beginning of our season for some preseason practice for both sides, there certainly some cheap shots by International. Also, they are basically a one-man threat, as demonstrated by all the important goals being scored by Kai. Good job to Gateway for waking up and closing him down. Maybe we’ll play you guys next year in preseason. It would be fun.

  5. Forza IHS says:

    @GWHS I say IHS is the classier program simply because they arent playing just to win, their athletic program seeks to develop those involved as human beings, not just athletes. I’m not saying everyone on the program is perfect by any means, and like I said, congrats to gateway on the win. Its important that they can win, but i think gateways very own commentators have proven the classlessness of their program. “Kai the one man show”? When was the last time you saw a phenomenal striker carry his team to that impressive of record at any level. Also when was the last time gateway sent any ahtlete to college (which i believe is the entire point of a program). Since we’re on the topic, i believe kai is getting recruited by 2-3 D1 programs. I rest my case. Congrats gateway.

  6. bcl central says:

    @forza ihs …….I saw no player of d-1 caliber in an IHS uniform….or in any SF league at that

  7. Forza IHS says:

    @ BCL central. Say that to the coaches trying to recruit kai.

  8. gway says:

    Quite frankly “Forza IHS” I don’t think you know enough about the Gateway athletic program/the grades of the players to make the claims your making. Your comments are the ones that are nonsensical and arrogant and you should really reconsider some of the things you post. To say that one team is “classier” over another regardless of who is play is completely inappropriate and disrespectful and shows a clear bias. Why bring down a team on their victory? Gateway played a great game and a great past couple seasons.

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