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Boys soccer: Tigers' fast-break leads to 2-0 win over Lodi

Jan. 5—The Lodi and Tokay boys soccer teams played a chaotic battle on Friday, with pair of breakaway goals making the difference in a 2-0 Tokay victory.

Tokay's Baltazar Gaona got things started in the 25th minute when he collected a long pass on the run, sidestepped Lodi goalkeeper Adam Phillips and slotted the ball into the net.

Christopher Mendoza scored in the second half on a similar play, taking a bouncing pass at speed between two defenders and lobbing it over Phillips.

"One of the things we talked about right before the game was controlling your heart rate. Don't go out there too emotional because you'll be worn out five minutes into the game," said Tokay assistant coach Jason Parenti, who helmed the team along with David Sanchez with head coach Ruben Becerra out of town. "I just told them all your have to do was play to their capabilities. They didn't have to do anything extraordinary and they'd be happy with the result at the end of the game."

Lodi, on the other hand, was far from happy. As the Flames' push to equalize failed to materialize late in the game and calls went against them, a double yellow left Lodi a man down for the last few minutes.

"I think that we as a team play much better soccer than that. Today we had a Tokay team that kicks the ball and runs," said Lodi coach Alex Oseguera. "Really they don't pass the ball, they don't play passing soccer, they launch. Our boys today didn't play that, they started playing their game. So we started kicking the ball."

The Flames stress a more controlled approach, with short passes and triangulation. Oseguera said he's seen the team play the system well, in a 3-3 loss to a strong Lincoln team earlier in the week and a loss to Galt in the preseason.

"I think with my team, we have three freshman starters. We only had two returning starters," Oseguera said. "So the way that we've been playing, we play some really nice soccer. It's just we're gelling and coming together."

But it was Tokay that controlled the pace on Friday. With an opportunistic midfield creating chaos in Lodi's attack and the big leg of sweeper Rafael Trujillo repeatedly sending the ball deep into Lodi's side of the field, the Tigers kept up the pressure for most of the game.

"We just recently got back one of our midfielders, and I think that's helped us develop into a team that can control the pace," Parenti said. "Chris is the person who came back, and I think his ability to control the ball has allowed our strikers to push a little bit harder and to understand where they need to be if they want to score."

The win continued the Tigers' hot start to Tri-City Athletic Legaue play at 2-0, and 6-6-3 overall. Tokay will host West on Wednesday.

"I'm just proud of our seniors that have been through a lot the last couple of years," Parenti said. "To have an opportunity to beat Lodi on this field means a lot to them."

Lodi left the field Friday disappointed, but Oseguera has confidence in his players' ability to come together. The Flames (3-10-1, 0-1-1 TCAL) will play at St. Mary's on Wednesday.

For me, it's about taking a young team with a lot of young players and having them believe in themselves, and they still don't," Oseguera said. "Sometimes they do. Some of the games we've lost, out of 80 minutes, we play 70 really good ones, and then sometimes 10 where we lose the game. And that's the youth of the team."