Mission High’s soccer team has spent all season running over and around its opposition, but on Wednesday, the Bears fell into a role-reversal.

Fremont High ran wild. Mission was just trying to keep up.

Maynor Escalante, left, and Jose Saul Hernandez warm up before Mission’s game against Fremont. Photo by Helene Goupil.

Fremont captured the first game in the best-of-three Transbay Series, beating Mission 3-2. After the Tigers relinquished an early 2-0 lead, Mario Jimenez scored the decisive goal on a penalty kick with less than five minutes to play.

As two Tigers approached the goal unchallenged, Bears goalkeeper Jose Guevara-Fuentes ran toward the Fremont players and tried a desperate slide tackle to deter the attack. He took down both Tigers and was called for a yellow card. Because of the foul’s proximity to the goal, the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick, which Jimenez converted with ease.

“It’s not his fault,” Mission coach Scott Kennedy said of Guevara-Fuentes. “We never should have let them have that opportunity.”

In the first half, Fremont seemed to create scoring opportunities at will, exploiting the Bears’ offside trap to get into the open field. Luis Ruiz-Ortiz scored the game’s first goal, breaking free to barely slide a shot past Guevara-Fuentes. Gavin Perez extended the Tigers’ lead by scoring off a corner kick later in the half.

With Mission desperate for an offensive spark late in the first half, Jose Gallardo-Macias launched a rocket from 35 yards out, which sailed past the Fremont defense, kissed the far post and dropped into the back of the net.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://media.journalism.berkeley.edu/mission/missionhighsound.hg111208/soundslider.swf” height=”400″ width=”600″ /]

“I just knew I had a good shot, and I took it,” Gallardo-Macias said.

The Bears tied the game early in the second half on a floating shot by Jose Mendoza-Martinez. As the game wore on the defensive intensity stiffened until Fremont broke free to set up the game-winning score.

Fremont’s Salvador Sainz fell on his neck in the game’s final moments and was unable to immediately walk off the field.

“Just a nasty fall,” Fremont coach George Hopkins said of the injury.

Sainz was responsive and able to move after the game ended.

Attention now turns to Game 2, which will be played Friday at 4 p.m. in Oakland. Mission needs a win to force a Game 3 back in San Francisco.

“We will need to be better on defense, mainly on our offsides trap,” Gallardo-Macias said.

“Focus,” said Kennedy. “We just have to be more focused.”

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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