The winter soccer season is underway, and the West and Kimball teams faced off in early crosstown action Monday at Kimball’s Don Nicholson Stadium.
The match ended in a 2-2 tie after the Kimball Jaguars took a 2-1 lead in the first half and West scored early in the second half.
It was the first game of the season for the West Wolf Pack, which has a strong core of experienced returning players, including goalkeeper Saul Salgado. He held up against a persistent Kimball offense, blocking five shots in the first half and one more in the second.
West has 13 seniors on its 19-player roster, including new players who are already making an impact. Senior Zaki Himatullah scored both of the Pack’s goals, starting with the first goal of the game midway through the first half.
“It was pretty good, the guys sent the through balls and I used my speed and scored it. I’m pretty excited about it,” Himatullah said.
Junior Sergio Contreras took a shot off of a cross, but the ball went off the right post. Himatullah charged in from the right side and fired the ball into the left side of the goal. He said he normally shoots with his left foot, but he didn’t have time to set up the perfect shot.
“I’ve got the speed on those guys,” he said. “They couldn’t catch up to me, so I used my right. I’m not a righty, but I managed to score both of them with my right.”
Kimball scored in the 29th minute. Senior Emiliano Olmos, one of just four returning varsity players, kept up a persistent attack on the West goal. After West goalie Salgado had blocked three consecutive shots, Olmos was in position on the right side to score.
As the first half drew to a close, the Jaguars again put strong pressure on the Wolf Pack’s goal, with Olmos again up close and on the attack. This time he crossed the ball to the right side and senior Alejandro Nuno, another returning varsity player, made the shot.
“It was a pretty good counterattack,” Nuno said afterward. “We caught them off guard. It was three against two and we caught them with an easy tap-in.”
He said the game was a good early test for the Jaguars, who have mostly juniors on their 17-player roster.
“It’s a brand new team. Last year it was all seniors. I was one of the few juniors on the team and this year we only have like five seniors. It’s a bunch of young people, so we’re still getting used to each other,” he said. “We’ve just got to get our conditioning up and keep that same pressure that we kept up the whole half.”
West scored again eight minutes into the second half. Junior Jesus Pena stole the ball at midfield and sent it up the field, where Himatullah chased down the through pass and shot into the right side of the goal to tie it up 2-2.
West coach Abel Dorado said his team was sorting out its strengths and weaknesses.
“First game and I think everyone was kind of nervous, especially playing against a school from the same town. Everybody wants to go in thinking they’re going to win, then they put too much pressure on themselves and make more mistakes,” he said. “I just wanted to play everybody and give everybody a chance and go from here.”
Kimball coach Bryce Lassiter said that most of his team played together on last year’s junior varsity squad.
“It’s a young group for sure. They work really hard as a unit,” he said. “They put a ton of pressure on the ball and they’re a lot of smart players, and they work well together.”
He added that, even against an effective goalie, the Jaguars had missed opportunities.
“I’m hoping we can work on that and get a few more opportunities to close it out,” he said.
West won the junior varsity game 4-1.