San Luis Obispo High senior midfielder Peter Delkeskamp called Wednesday’s boys soccer match at Paso Robles “a must-win” as the two teams walked onto the field tied for second in the PAC 8 standings.
It took longer than regulation for the Tigers to break through, but when they did, they left no chance for the Bearcats to catch them.
Delkeskamp’s tally one minute into the second overtime sparked a three-goal barrage in the span of five minutes, goalkeeper Brayden Mahoney made five saves, and San Luis Obispo topped short-handed Paso Robles 3-0.
“Once we got that first one, it all fell into place,” said Delkeskamp, who took a feed from Willie Kirschner, dribbled around goalkeeper Juan Carlos Ruiz, and slotted the ball into the open net.
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He raised his hands in celebration as soon as the ball left his foot.
“Now that I think about it,” Delkeskamp said, “I kind of wish I shot it right away. But, whatever, it was a goal.”
Before the Bearcats (8-2-5, 5-2-2) could muster a response, Kirschner lofted a pass from Cole Halfman into the net, and Halfman scored three minutes later on an assist from Jessee Barry.
Paso Robles had two free kicks in opportune areas in the second half, but hard-hit shots by Rafael Roman and Joshua Bustamante both missed high, and Jose Cuara’s second yellow card with 15 minutes left in regulation put the home team down a man for the remainder of the match.
“We play with 10 men, it does not matter,” Bearcats coach Omar McPherson said. “We were still playing. I make no excuses. (The Tigers) put goals in. We had opportunities, we just didn’t put it in.”
Other than the free kicks, the defense for San Luis Obispo (14-1-3, 6-1-2) kept Paso Robles out of dangerous areas — something not many teams have been able to do this year, including league-leading Pioneer Valley.
“That team attacks well when the ball is in the box,” Tigers coach James Boscaro said of the Bearcats. “We had a heck of a game from our goalkeeper, who came up big for us.
“I told our boys the three goals are nice, but the zero is better on the other end.”
San Luis Obispo opened the season with eight straight victories, including a 2-0 nonleague win over Pioneer Valley, but hit a 1-1-3 skid with a 1-1 tie versus Paso Robles and a 1-0 loss at Pioneer Valley.
“For a little bit there, we kind of lost our hunger and our aggressiveness,” Delkeskamp said. “We’ve been getting it back these past couple games, and we’re feeling good right now.” Since suffering their lone loss of the season, the Tigers have reeled off five straight victories, outscoring opponents 29-1.
“If we tied this game, we needed a lot of help,” Boscaro said. “Now that we won this one, we only need a little bit of help.
“We were tied for second with them, but now second is ours and we have our eyes on first.”
The Tigers and Pioneer Valley will face off again next Wednesday in San Luis Obispo. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing,” Delkeskamp said. “Come out like our coach tells us; be bullies on the field. If we keep that up, we’ll win out.”
Pioneer Valley improved to 8-1 in league with an 8-2 win over Mission Prep on Wednesday. The Panthers’ only PAC 8 defeat came on the same field San Luis Obispo just won, when the Bearcats routed the favorites 4-1 on on Jan. 21.
“I was just telling their coach,” Boscaro said, “we need them to beat PV again for us. “Paso can play. They’re going to finish third in our league — if we don’t slip — and their going to win some CIF games, because they can play.”
McPherson, whose team was 5-7 in league last year, said it all comes to cohesion and consistency.
“If they played the way they played against Pioneer,” he said of his squad, “I don’t think there would be any team that could beat us in the league. We have some off days, but we’ll come together.
“We’ve got five games left in the season. A lot can happen between now and then.”