Atwater soccer can't stop McNair

Sjansen@mercedsunstar.comOctober 30, 2012 

— Jimmy Brewer couldn't have asked for a better scouting report on McNair.

The Atwater soccer coach came into Tuesday's game knowing the Eagles had a strong counter attack.

The Falcons just couldn't stop it.

McNair scored three goals on counter-attack opportunities, taking advantage of Atwater defensive mistakes on its way to a 4-2 win in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 Playoffs at McNair High.

"We just found a little gap between their midfielders and fullbacks and we were able to exploit it in our counter attacks," said McNair coach Dale Strawn, whose team improved to 13-2-3.

The fifth-seeded Eagles will host No. 13 Ponderosa in a second-round match on Thursday.

The Falcons (11-8-7) found themselves in an early hole against McNair.

The Eagles' Jonathan Ortiz fired a shot from 30 yards out that Atwater goalie Efrain Ulloa seemed to have saved on a diving stop, but Ulloa misplayed the ball and it trickled into the net to give McNair a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the game.

The Eagles made it 2-0 just 2 minutes later when Martin Barriga broke away in transition and beat Ulloa with a shot off his left foot into the left corner of the net.

The Falcons had a couple opportunities to score in the first half, but their shots either hit off the post or sailed high as they went into intermission to regroup.

"We just tried to keep the attitude positive," Brewer said. "The circumstances weren't going to change unless we tried to change them."

The circumstances got worse when Barriga scored his second of three goals in the 50th minute to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.

The Falcons battled back as Manuel Villegas scored one minute later to get Atwater on the board. Villegas scored on a penalty kick with 12 minutes left in the game to cut the lead to 3-2.

However, Barriga put the game away with another goal in transition after he got behind the Falcons defenders and caught Ulloa out of the box with 7 minutes left in the game.

"Sometimes when the momentum shifts like that it's hard to get it back, but this team has been good at that all year," Strawn said.

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