Tam soccer comes short against nation’s top team

By Joe Laland

The Tam boy’s varsity soccer team’s lack of organization led to a 2-1 loss to Jesuit High School at Tam on August 28. Arguably the hardest opponent Tam has ever faced, Jesuit is ranked number one in the nation this year by ESPN.

“They were very physical and fast, a really good team.”said Senior captain Imran Nana. At the beginning of the game it looked like it would be an easy game for Jesuit, whose players put multiple shots on goal in just the first couple minutes.

Jesuit tried to pull Tam out of their fast-paced tempo by being very physical. “They asserted themselves as a physical presence. And we are not that big as a team,” said Tam coach Dustin Nygaard.

Once Tam got back to their style of play, they created their own scoring chances by drawing fouls by the aggressive Jesuit team. Tam used their most physical player, senior captain James Gilmore in front of the goal. Junior Julien Melendez and Nana crossed in numerous balls, some of which Gilmore headed to barely miss the frame.

At the half the score was tied 0-0.

Midway through the second half Jesuit used their advantage of height and connected on two header goals

“We were unorganized in the back and with their size they executed.” said Tam junior Tesfaye Paine.

Coach Nygaard agreed, saying “Since it’s early in the season we have not had a chance to discuss strategy on corners and combine that with two skilled players on Jesuit it resulted in goals.”

After falling down 2-0, Tam still pushed for an attack. When they got fouled at the thirty yard line they looked to capitalize on a golden scoring opportunity. Melendez stepped up to take the free kick confidently with set piece specialist senior Min Ho Kang on the bench. Melendez had to debate whether to shoot or cross it in. He decided to swing it into the back post were Gilmore distracted two defenders and Paine volleyed it into the back of the net.

“I just wanted to create space and I knew Julien would find me,” said Paine.

“I saw Tesfaye in the best position and I didn’t want to shoot on a wall of four 6’8” kids,” said Melendez.

Nygaard said of the goal, “I let our skilled players make the decision on whether they should shoot or cross, and Julien was just far enough back to cross it in.”

Tam then kept pushing forward and almost put in a couple more crosses, but in the end they came up short.

Tam players thought Jesuit was a very solid but showed little class in their overly physical play.

“They shouldn’t be number one, a number one team should have more class and more respect,” said Paine.

Melendez agreed. “They were big trash talkers and complained a lot. A number one team shouldn’t do that. Granite Bay should be number 1.” Tam played Granite Bay earlier in the year and lost 2-0 to the squad, which last year finished ranked fifth in the nation.

Written by Joe Laland. This article is an online exclusive.