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Isauro Estrada glides toward a ball in front of a Madison defenseman as teammate Matt Balog
looks on. Photo by Skip Sickler



Originally published: 2012-10-24 18:41:56
Last modified: 2012-10-24 18:41:56

Victory over Madison highlights Vikings soccer week

Jamie Shell / (sports@averyjournal.com)

Avery High School's men's soccer team continues to march toward a potential state playoff berth as the conference regular season schedule winds down.

The Big Red traveled to Columbus on Monday, Oct. 15, to tangle with the Polk County Wolverines. Avery defeated Polk 5-1 in Newland earlier in the season, but Polk proved a tougher adversary at home, downing Avery by a 4-1 final score.

Polk took a 2-0 halftime lead and didn't look back, as Avery picked up its lone goal from Leonel Castaneda off an Isauro Estrada assist.

"I was expecting us to come out with a better effort than what we did. For some reason or another, the guys just didn't have their heads in the game," head coach Bruce Daniels said after the match. "We seemed disinterested from the start and didn't seem to put forth much effort. Not as an excuse, but we had played two emotional matches against Thomas Jefferson and Hendersonville the previous week, and there might have been a hangover effect of sorts. But overall, it was a disappointing performance."

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Daniels used the poor effort against Polk as fuel to motivate his team, and the Big Red responded by blanking Madison by a 4-0 final score.

Avery drew first blood as Ryan Buchanan netted a goal off a Matt Balog assist in the 13th minute for a 1-0 Vikings advantage. In the 39th minute, Castaneda found the back of the net off another assist from Balog, helping the Vikings to a 2-0 halftime lead.

Two minutes into the second half, Avery added an insurance goal, as Balog put his name into the scoring column off a Castaneda assist, pushing the Vikings' lead to 3-0. AHS closed the scoring in the 58th minute, as Estrada scored a goal off Balog's third assist of the match for the final margin.

"Before the match I tried to put the Polk loss fresh in the players' minds. I did not want to just remind them of the embarrassment of not playing well there, but explain to them that their potential is much higher, and that they can play at a much higher level on a consistent basis," Daniels added. "We looked completely different in the Madison match. If we can keep that kind of consistency match in and match out, we can move this program up a level. I feel we had the potential to do that this season, but the middle of the season we just lost our focus a bit and didn't necessarily give the best effort each night that we should have."

Avery's record stands at 7-10-2 overall, with a 4-6-2 mark in conference matches. Should AHS win its final two matches, the team feels confident that it will earn a wild card berth in the following week's state 1A soccer playoffs.

The Vikings traveled earlier this week to Burnsville to take on Mountain Heritage, and closes the season at MacDonald Stadium this Wednesday, Oct. 24, as AHS celebrates Senior Night prior to its match against Mitchell. The Vikings will honor Balog, Estrada, Ian Franklin and Bill Lien for their contributions to the Big Red soccer program.