The Oxnard Guerreros were expecting more from their homecoming this past Saturday after playing back-to-back road games and capturing four points from the two, but ultimately fell to an in-form Albion SC PROS side who were able to extend their winning streak to three games off of goals from Amani Walker and Michael Sauers in a game that finished 2-1.
“It was a battle today. It’s a much improved team then when we saw them the first time and they (Guerreros) gave us a couple of scary moments, but obviously every point is so valuable in this league and you just never know… we are very happy with the result,” Albion Coach Ziggy Korytoski said following their 2-1 win over Oxnard, and a win that gave them a full six points over the new NPSL side.
A new-look Guerreros side started the game slow and allowed Albion to control and maintain possession for a majority of the first half. The Albion attack constantly attacked the goal mouth with a bombardment of long balls to the tall and rangy forward Amani Walker.
Although Albion threatened for most of the first half, Guerreros goalkeeper Chase McQueen was up for the task as he would make two vital saves that would keep the score deadlocked at 0-0.
Guerreros defenders Cristian Yepez and Tomas Araujo were also rock solid against the opposition as the team from Oxnard was able to keep an opposition from scoring in the first half for the first time all season.
The deadlock would soon be broken though as Sauers would streak down the left wing and send a cross to Walker, who was able to just get a foot on the ball putting it past McQueen and giving his side the 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.
“You always want to try and score that first goal and try to get ahead,” Walker added. “Put that pressure on the other team…today it was a great ball in from Michael Sauers to play me on the back post and I was lucky to get on the end of it and actually put it in.”
Following the goal, the Guerreros were able to get their attack going after the substitutions that brought in both Alejandro Garcia and Gabriel Gonzales in the 55th minute.
Garcia and Gonzalez had an immediate impact as Gonzalez found some space on the right side of the pitch and had a shot parried out by Albion’s keeper only to land at the foot of Garcia, who missed the target from six yards out.
The lead for Albion would soon be doubled after Sauers was played a ball after being left wide open in the box, and would punish the Guerreros with a rocket of a shot past McQueen in the 77th minute.
The Guerreros would continue to push following the goal and the work would pay off as they would be rewarded a penalty in the 80th minute with a chance to cut the lead in half.
Wilton Quintero stepped up to take the penalty, and would hit it off the post. The miss was quickly followed by Garcia, who was able to collect the ball and put it into the bottom corner giving his team a chance with 10 minutes plus stoppage still left on the clock.
The goal, however, would be too little too late as Albion was able to travel to Del Sol Stadium and steal three vital road points in their quest for a playoff spot.
“I am happy with the work today after we were able to win points on the road in difficult environments. Today the game was very important because it gave us the chance to jump to the fourth position, and the guys did a fantastic job during the game, but I think we were just a bit unlucky sometimes,” Coach Julio De La Torre said in regards to his team’s performance even though the result did not end in their favor.
This game would increase Albion’s gap to five points in the fourth position and leaves the Guerreros in a must-win situation next week.
Forward Gabriel Gonzalez spoke about what the team will look to do going into the next games.
“I think there’s quite a few things we can improve on. I think our shape at the back needs to be a little bit better and be a little more organized, and also recognize when we need to push the ball forward and when we can knock it around the back.”
The Guerreros will return to action on May 20th at Del Sol Stadium and will host visitors FC Arizona.