Mar 13, 2008

Make hay (or pix) while the sun is shining (or at least not raining ... too bad)

Yesterday afternoon I drove to Naselle High to shoot their season-opening softball game, which was to the be the lead for the sports page next week. Needless to say I was a little disappointed when after making the 30-minute drive I find that the home game has been switched to an away game. I knew that the only other game happening locally that day was a golf match in Surfside, but it would take almost an hour to get there from where I was and would likely be over.

Knowing that I still needed something for lead art next week a light bulb went off and I remembered that the Atlas futbol team from Ocean Park was playing a Liga Hispana match at the Warrenton soccer complex in a half hour, so I took off across the river. We've been wanting to cover this men's league team for years, and finally was able to a bit last season, when they went undefeated and won the league. This year we plan on doing some more regular coverage of the team, when we can, as high school sports of course is still king.

Here is the story that my buddy David Plechl wrote up for me. He plays for the Wolf Pack team in this league.

Atlas handed first loss in over a year
Atlas scored first, but it would be their last. The Ocean Park-based soccer team of the Liga Hispania was stunned by Romania, a team based out of Astoria, by a final score of 4 to 1. Atlas, the league's returning champions, uncharacteristically created few decent scoring chances, as Romania, in its inaugural year in the league, tallied three first half goals.
The single Atlas goal came fifteen minutes into the game on a free kick from Bernardo Tinnoco (#12). The shot was not well-placed but slipped between the legs of Romania goalkeeper Kiely Bondurant.
But Romania refused to crumble, and answered with a breakaway goal from Adrian Condrea at the 22 minute mark. Condrea lobbed the ball expertly over charging Atlas goalkeeper Rafael Temones.
Romania added another goal 10 minutes later when forward Chris Senich shot from twenty yards out under a hard tackle from the Atlas defense.
As the match wore-on, Atlas strung together the usual number of well-timed passes, but failed to attack with any real threat. As Atlas remained hesitant, Romania kept up a fierce counter-attack. Condrea scored again 40 minutes into the half when he slotted the ball perfectly from 20 yards out into the corner netting on a drop pass from Jay Flint. It would Flint's first of two assists. Josh Long, coach and central defender for Romania was surprised at the returning league champs' lack of initiative in the final third.
"They weren't really trying to penetrate at all," said Long. "We won the fifty-fifty balls, and controlled the game quite well."
Things changed little for Atlas in the second half as Romania kept up the charge. Romania forward Chris Lamb scored from just outside the penalty box when he chipped the Atlas goalkeeper. Five minutes later, Atlas had a chance to score when the Romania defense was called for a handball in the penalty box. However, Bondurant saved face from his first-half blunder by decisively smothering the penalty kick from Atlas forward Norberto Tinoco.
The Romania goalkeeper remained solid the rest of the game, and had little trouble squashing the overly eager long shots fired from the Atlas front line. Romania continued to dominate the rest of the half with nearly a dozen shots on goal. Atlas reacted late by pushing everyone forward, but the effort only made them more vulnerable to Romania's counter.
The upset gave Romania its first win in two games. Atlas has also split the last two games, but the loss is the team's first in a year.

Thanks David for the assist on the story!

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