Boys Varsity soccer loses the reins on the Branson bulls


Naomi Betz

Senior center back Zack Lillington gets tripped by a Branson player in an effort to take the ball down the field. This trip caused Zack to fall to the ground.

With a record of seven wins, one loss, and four ties, AWHS boys Varsity soccer was hoping to add to their winning streak and advance their league record. On Wednesday Jan. 26, AWHS took on The Branson School in a momentous matchup. Unfortunately, after a toilsome game, Brason defeated AWHS 2-1.

With a slow first 20 minutes of the game, AWHS and Branson were tied at 0-0 after multiple corner kicks and throw-ins. After the scoreless first 25 minutes, Branson was able to take the lead after a lucky shot, making the score 0-1.

After the first goal, AWHS took initiative and pushed the ball upfield, holding it on Branson’s side. With great communication on the field, AWHS gained momentum that they previously lacked at the beginning of the game. Corner kicks allowed AWHS numerous close opportunities at the goal, but none were successful. 

Senior right back Avi Thaler fights a Branson player to get the ball to his AWHS teammates. (Naomi Betz)

With high competition, the game started out with Branson quickly taking control and pressing the ball, but AWHS held strong defense and kept Branson from having any easy scoring opportunities. As the game progressed, AWHS was able to gain possession of the ball and hold it in their favor.

“[We did well] keeping the ball for pretty much the entire game except for in the moments when we had to finish it, we couldn’t do it and they did,” said senior right back Avi Thaler.

Going into halftime, AWHS remained scoreless. Branson held possession of the ball and took away some of AWHS’ opportunities on the goal. With the minimal chances they had, AWHS wasn’t able to catch up to Branson’s offensive lead.

Senior Pahache Sharpe fights off a Branson player to take over the ball and run it up the field. (Naomi Betz)

Five minutes into the second half, AWHS had their first close opportunity on the goal until the referee’s whistle blew, cutting their chance to tie the score short. Shortly after this missed opportunity, Branson had a wide open shot on the goal which they believed went in. After a spastic celebration, Branson realized their shot was defended by the AWHS goal keep, junior Achilles Das.

10 minutes into the second half, senior center back Zack Lillington went up for a penalty kick and unfortunately overshot the goal. With multiple missed opportunities, and having played a big game the day before, AWHS seemed to tire out quicker than usual.

20 minutes into the second half, AWHS got a penalty kick with senior midfielder Diego Alicke taking the shot. Senior midfielder Davis Logan fell short of a header but Zack was able to pick it up behind him, heading the ball into the goal, tying the score once again at 1-1.

Though the team displayed ample communication, they were unable to manipulate the game to their advantage. The teams were evenly matched and played a notable game. Senior center back George Dick wished that his team had started with more fire and carried it through the rest of the match.

AWHS fighting Branson to get the goal as players leap and crouch around the ball. (Naomi Betz)

“It mostly comes down to us not coming prepared and that’s like the worst feeling cause we started slow and it showed out in the rest of the game,” George said.

Avi has noticed that after their shortened season last year due to COVID-19, it has been more challenging for the team to carry out their motivation during this longer season.

“I do think, with the longer season, the hunger we had in the beginning of the season, it’s kind of diminished in a way,” Avi said.

With 20 minutes left in the game, Branson took another successful shot on goal, making the score 2-1, Branson. This lit a fire under the Falcons as they worked to protect their top ranking in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL). 

After successfully sliding to defend the ball from going into the goal, Achilles had to be taken out of the game due to an injury caused by a collision with a Branson player. Junior Tirnan Bratcher took over for Achilles for the rest of the game. The teams had aggressive yet friendly play, with multiple collisions and injuries throughout the duration of the game.

“Whether the boys know it or not, tonight was actually a positive for them in their development of people.”

— Rene Ayala

After fighting back to gain possession of the ball, senior midfielder James Worthington took a promising shot on the goal only for it to fall just short of the goal and bounce off the left goal post. With nine minutes left in the game, AWHS kept up this momentum and fought hard to keep the ball on Branson’s side of the field, taking all possible opportunities to score.

The drive to succeed is prominent in this team and their skills have proven to be exceptional. Head coach Renye Ayala believes in his team and sees every game as an opportunity for them to improve upon their coordination as a whole.

 “Whether the boys know it or not, tonight was actually a positive for them in their development of people,” Ayala said.

After this hard fought game, AWHS was unable to defeat Branson. Ending with a score of 1-2, AWHS is looking forward to refreshing their record in their next game this Saturday, Jan. 29 versus Novato High School at the Red Hill field.

“Hopefully we can right this ship and we can make the adjustments because for me, making playoffs is great but the reason I want to make playoffs is because I want to have more time with them,” Ayala said.

Senior center back George Dick takes control of the ball, kicking it back up the field. (Naomi Betz)