BY Stephen Lynch Special to the Californian
It hasn’t been often that the Bakersfield High boys soccer team has trailed in any of its games this season, so Drillers coach Archie Parks was quite nervous when his team fell behind by two goals to Independence on Thursday night.
It turns out there was no need for Parks to worry.
BHS rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to beat Independence 6-3 in a showdown between the top two teams in the Southwest Yosemite league standings coming into the night.
Evan Tesch scored two goals and Ricardo Rodriguez, Gonzalo Roland and Jose Tavera each had a goal and an assist for BHS, which outscored the visiting Falcons 4-0 in the second half.
“Like I just told my kids at the end of the game, it’s hard to dig yourself out of a 2-0 (deficit), but we showed a lot of heart,” Parks said. “We came back. We’re able to score a lot of goals this year. Thank God for that because our backs were against the wall.”
The Drillers other goal came off the foot of Leonel Cruz, who was spectacular in the midfield, creating numerous scoring opportunities by dribbling through the heart of the Independence defense and then passing to teammates for short-range shots.
BHS (13-2-2, 4-0 SWYL) finished with 12 shots on goal. Independence (8-7-3, 2-1-1 SWYL) had 10 shots on goal, including a pair of strikes by David Oba that found that back of the net.
After BHS stormed back to even things up with two quick goals late in the first half, Oba reclaimed the lead for Independence in the 32nd minute with spectacular move and shot from the left side of the box.
BHS got a big lift in the second half from Rodriguez, normally a goalkeeper. Playing in the field for just the third time during his high school career, his energy and enthusiasm ignited the Drillers when he entered the game as a sub in the second half.
Soon after Tesch drew BHS even early in the second half with a short goal off a throw-in from Kameron Theodore, Rodriguez put the Drillers ahead for a good with a sensational shot.
“Gonzalo Roland, he centered the ball up, it bounced off the defenders and I just got in a volley,” Rodriguez said. “Just shot it. Dipper, right under the crossbar.”
From there the Drillers continued to pour it on as Cruz and Roland added late goals.
“The win was very big because we needed it to stay on top,” Cruz said. “I’m glad we got it.”
The Drillers big second-half turnaround came after Parks gave his team an earful at halftime.
“I think we were resting on our laurels a little bit because we have been running through some good games lately,” he said. “We’ve been shutting out a lot of teams and scoring a lot of goals so I think we’re getting a little too comfortable.
The Falcons were without Oba for 10 minutes of action because of an injury. The talented forward came off the field grabbing his right hamstring late in the first half and didn’t return until the 49th minute.
“I had a cramp in my leg so I couldn’t give out much in the second half, but we did our best,” Oba said. “We still need a little more conditioning.”
Much of the Falcons’ second-half woes stemmed from an inability to clear the ball out of their own end.
“(In) the second half I think we just letup,” Independence coach Jose Ruesga said. “We didn’t defend correctly. There’s balls we didn’t clear out, which we just left lingering in there for somebody to put in.”
Ruesga said that the second half wasn’t indicative of how his team normally plays.
“We are a good team and we will be there at the end,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parks' immediate goal for his team is to finish the first half of league play with a 5-0 record.
“Going undefeated is very hard to do,” he said.
Bakersfield 6, Independence 3
IHS (8-7-3, 2-1-1 SWYL): Goals: Oba 2, Vallecillo; Assists: Morones; Saves: Valenzuela 4.
BHS (13-2-2, 4-0 SWYL): Goals: Tesch 2, Tavera, Roland, Cruz, Rodriguez; Assists: Theodore, Luna, Tavera, Roland, Rodriguez; Saves: Luevano 6.