This year the Yaotl trophy stayed at Mission High School — not because the Mission High School Bears’ head coach Scott Kennedy forgot to bring the trophy to Kezar Stadium, but because the Bears beat crosstown rival John O’Connell in boys’ soccer, 6-0 Thursday night.
The Yaotl trophy (“Yaotl” means “warrior” in the Nahuatl language of Central America) was created five years ago in honor of the rivalry between the Bears and John O’Connell’s Boilermakers. Not only did the Bears play like warriors, they also played with style on a wet and drizzly night that saw the debut of their new yellow-and-white striped jerseys.
“I think they are the best team in the city this year and I wish them all the luck,” said Joe Gamino, John O’Connell’s athletics director and head coach of the Boilermakers soccer team.
“I expect them to win a title this year and keep it in our neighborhood,” said Gambino, referring to the league championship.
This season, John O’Connell’s soccer team has not been as successful as in previous years. Three seasons ago they played the Bears in the league championship game.
Last night the Boilermakers found themselves playing the entire game with nine players instead of 11. Many players were not able to make grades, and others were suspended. This has been a problem all season long, Gamino said. “We haven’t had the same 11 starting in one game, so it makes it tough.”
“The problem is on us,” Gamino said. “we need to push our kids, making sure they get the grades and come to school.”
The Boilermakers never gave up on the attack, but as time progressed, possession became more difficult for them with so few players on the field. With this advantage the Bears were able to relax and score six goals in the first half.
Mario Ruiz and Fidel Cazares each scored a pair of goals; Marco Caballero and Christian Cortes each had one goal.
The Boilermakers’ frustrations showed at times; they received a couple of yellow cards, and at one point, after the Bears had scored, the Boilermakers’ goalie laid on the floor for a few minutes.
“Play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, have respect for yourself, have respect for the opponent and do the best you can,” Gamino said to his players. “Keep your heads up high.”
By the second half, coach Kennedy signaled to his players to stop pressing the attack and just practice their passing.
“I was surprised because they didn’t give up,” said Wilson Jimenez, the Bears’ assistant coach. “Other teams with nine players would have stayed back and not done anything, but these guys kept on pushing. That tells a lot about the team.”
Marco Caballero, the Bears’ captain, injured his left foot in the second half. He confirmed he will sit out today’s game against Head Royce.
“We might put in Quentin Ikehara because he played really good today,” Jimenez said.