Nipomo High’s soccer team wanted to finish strong in its last regular season home game on senior night and the Titans picked a good way to do it by beating Morro Bay 1-0 on Tuesday with a goal by senior Jonathan Gomez.
The Titans (10-7-4, 4-2-2 Los Padres League) won a close one in which they battled through first half struggles, giving Morro Bay (11-5-3, 5-2-1) some good chances to score.
But junior goalkeeper Jason Alvarado made the save of the night by grabbing a shot rocketed off the foot of Pirates forward Jackson Chavez on a breakaway in the 18th minute that could have put Morro Bay ahead early.
“He came through the middle, and I decided to wait for him to come to me instead of going out to get him,” Alvarado said. “I just went for the ball and grabbed it as soon as it came off his foot.”
Nipomo coach Billy Vinnedge was urging his players to try to gain control of the ball and pass with better precision after several changes of possession and sloppy touches at midfield in the first half.
Their opportunity came in the second half in the 46th minute when Aaron Robles found Gomez on a long pass that crossed the field from the right side just past midfield to the left near the goal.
The ball bounded in the air, and Gomez sent it into the net on a diving header that he drove downward to the right.
“I thought Robles made eye contact with me, and I ran around my defender to get open,” Gomez said. “I thought about volleying it, but then I decided, nah, I’m just gonna head it. It felt great.”
For Vinnedge, the execution was what he’d been looking for all game. Robles controlled the initial bounding ball well and then made a pass cross field to get the assist.
“We preached the cross and low shots and Aaron made a great pass and (Gomez) finished low,” Vinnedge said. “I thought Morro Bay really came to play. Because this was senior night and our last home game, we had a lot of emotion coming in. We struggled, but we were able to get a good win.”
In the first half, Morro Bay had some clean looks with Chavez letting fly on a few strikes of the ball that couldn’t find the mark.
And late in the second half, defender Michael Rarig gave the Pirates a few chances with some impressive throw-ins in which he sprinted to the sideline and used a flip throw to get the ball deep into the Titans’ penalty box.
The throw-in involved a complete front handspring to propel the ball with force about 30 to 40 yards. Chad Porter had a crack at one of Rarig’s throws on a header that sailed wide right.
And then in the final minute, Morro Bay had a free kick from about 40 yards out that was headed in traffic and sailed just left — and the game ended shortly thereafter.
“I told my guys at halftime that this game might come down to errors that lead to a goal,” Morro Bay coach Andrew Wilkie said. “We had our chances, but unfortunately we couldn’t find a goal. I really liked the way we battled until the final whistle. That last header could have gone in and we’d have been tied. I’m proud of our guys.”