Before the game, prayer in the circle
MAR VISTA PARK – The origin of Lighthouse Christian Academy’s hard-fought soccer victory Friday was in the small Central American nation of Guatemala.
Sophomore Luis Secaira opened scoring in the 43rd minute, and Freshman Robert Ashcraft finished off the game in the 76th minute. Both were born in Guatemala.
At game three in the 2012-13 season, the varsity Saints are 2-0-1.
After both teams stale-mated in the first half, fleet-footed Secaira put Lighthouse ahead early in the second half. Chasing an audacious through-ball from Stopper Tori Scribner, he bolted past Wildwood defense, rounded the goalie, slotted gently into the net — and fell down, the wind knocked out of him by an opponent’s elbow at the start of the 40-yard dash.
Lighthouse fans — out in force for the proximity of the playing field — erupted in cheers. They were already savoring a second victory, after a dismal season with no wins last year.
But the elation turned to anxiety 13 minutes later as Wildwood struck on a free kick just outside of the area, and the ball was headed into the Saints’ net.
Tied at 1-1, both teams fought an exhausting battle to move forward into striking range. Wildwood was unlucky to see hard-won penetration frustrated as a low shot on the far post bounced out and was cleared.
Meanwhile, the Saints relied mostly on counter-attack with the mind-boggling speed of forward Wyatt Hodgson, a tenacious competitor and natural athlete.
With four minutes to the final whistle, midfield magician Elijah Symonds – a.k.a. the human catapult – hurled a throw-in into the area. Surrounded by three defenders, Rob headed the ball backwards and into the net.
Wildwood players scrambled frantically for the equalizer. When the ref called the game, the Saints broke out in celebration. “We’re undefeated,” chimed Tori, who played nearly faultlessly.
While the Guatemalans scored the goals, at the other end of the field a Mexican American was ensuring the victory. Ace Goal-Keeper Adrian Brizuela blunted Wildwood attacking weapons with intelligent, hair-raising saves.
The freshman threw himself time after time with nervy kamikaze dives that only the most fearless goalies pull off. While saves at both ends of the field were almost equal (Saints 7, Wildwood 6), the types executed by Adrian were technically more difficult — and gutsy.
Playing co-ed against all boys, the Saints gave a lesson in mental fortitude and doggedness. Refusing to tire, they dug deep to find the inner resources to grab the victory in what was their sternest test to date. With every match, improvement can be seen.
Looming ahead on Tuesday is the biggest challenge yet: the speed demons and master-class passers of Vista Mar. Can Lighthouse with half a team of beginners muster enough grit, concentration and determination to wrangle out a satisfying result?
**** Pictures thanks to Susie and Jennifer Scribner!