By Oliver Lazenby
The Blaine boys varsity soccer team’s first home game turned out much like the rest of its games this season – a tough loss.
The team has a 0–6–0 record so far, but that doesn’t tell the full story. The Borderites have been competitive all season, even in matches with strong Burlington-Edison and Bellingham teams.
“Our record doesn’t reflect how we play as a team,” said senior Matthew Wheaton. “We’re certainly stronger than our record shows. We’ve been hanging with the big schools.”
The team lost its first home game against Nooksack Valley on March 28 1–3. Even though they were missing seven players, the Borderites led most of the game and were competitive until the end.
“It’s painful when you’re missing key players,” said Blaine head coach Giovanni Quesada. He attributed the poor attendance to spring break vacations.
Blaine forward Saul Magallon scored an early goal 12 minutes into the game and the Borderites were still ahead 1–0 at halftime.
Both teams played aggressively in the second half, resulting in the Borderites earning two yellow cards.
The teams traded breakaways, but the fast pace wore on the Borderites’ small bench, which had just one substitute rather then the usual six or seven, Quesada said.
The lack of substitutions was hard for the team both physically and mentally, Quesada said.
“A lot of the game is mental. You need to stay in the game for 80 minutes,” he said.
Blaine defenders put pressure on Nooksack forwards throughout the half, but they missed a few key plays. Nooksack took the lead midway through the second half when they scored two goals in quick succession – one on a fast break and one on a header off a corner kick.
Wheaton, playing goalkeeper, made save after save in the second half, including a near-perfect shot that rocketed toward the top right corner of the goal before he spanked it above the net.
Nooksack forward David Flores sealed Nooksack’s win late in the second half with a low shot from outside the 18-yard box that rolled through multiple defenders.
“I’m happy with how the team performed and how the older players supported the new players,” Quesada said. “This is a learning process for the team, especially for a lot of the guys that had never played varsity level before.”
Despite a lack of players at Monday’s game, the Borderite soccer program this year was popular enough to have three teams – varsity, JV and C team – for the second year in a row.
“That shows a lot of kids want to play and the soccer program runs well now,” Quesada said. “There’s a lot of passion, so that’s exciting.”
The Borderites’ next game is at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 1 in Lynden. The team’s next home game is against Vashon Island at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. That game is the first in a string of five home games for the Borderites.