By Alex Tam
Communication on the field has been the biggest downfall for the International High School boys soccer team this season.
The Jaguars are winless through four games and needed a late-minute comeback to notch a 3-3 non-league tie against Athenian of Danville on Wednesday at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields.
International moved to 0-2-2 in the non-league season and head coach Carlos Bover expressed a little disappointment after the game.
“We didn’t play a good game,” Bover said. “I did feel good that we were able to come back, but we still have a lot of work to do. We are really behind the other teams . . . We need to start communicating and from there, lots of good things can come out of it.”
International faced a 3-1 deficit in the second half after Athenian’s Alex Kim scored in the 60th minute.
The Jaguars came back with two goals within two minutes. Tobias Wirtz converted on a penalty kick to cut Athenian’s lead to 3-2 in the 74th minute. Jose Garduño then equalized the game when he slipped a ball into the net for his second goal in the 76th minute.
“Jose is a really experienced player,” Bover said. “He’s smart, he’s tough, [but] a little undisciplined. He’s a good player. He can really see the game. He scored the two goals. He’s quiet, too, so we have a lot of good players, but they don’t talk a lot.”
Athenian head coach Matt Zahner said he wasn’t disappointed with the outcome, knowing International is a talented team.
“We could tell that they were strong,” Zahner said. “I looked at the clock with 10 minutes left [and a 3-1 lead] and said, ‘Oh bummer, there’s a lot of time left.’”
Athenian grabbed a 1-0 advantage before halftime when Arman Afifi maneuvered around a defender, was one-on-one with the goalkeeper and scored in the 27th minute.
The Owls added to the lead when Anthony Aguilar scored in the 42nd minute. Garduño scored his first goal in the 53rd minute.
“I saw that we never gave up,” Bover said. “That’s one of the important things. That’s one of the things I like about this team. They’re fighters. We’re all fighting with the right weapons.”
International will try to regroup, as it will play its first season in the more-competitive Bay Counties League West, after league realignment moved the Jaguars from the Bay Counties League Central.
Bover realizes the challenge ahead and said he is looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be very, very tough for us for sure,” he said. “This is probably one of the hardest years at International. We have lots of numbers, but we have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a tough year.”