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Rivals clash in playoff race

Posted: Friday, Jan 13th, 2017

Atascadero News & Paso Robles Press file photo Paso Robles soccer player battles Mission Prep for possession.

Passionate back-and-forth expected

PASO ROBLES — Parity and competitive balance in the PAC 8 can be found in no clearer a place than tonight’s game between the Atascadero and Paso Robles high school varsity boys soccer teams.

Both teams have the talent to beat any opponent in the PAC 8, and both have a lot of season left to keep their squad above .500.

Heading into tonight’s game, the Bearcats (2-2 PAC 8) are coming off a 2-1 win over Arroyo Grande (3-1 PAC 8), who were undefeated through three games before the loss. Atascadero’s two league losses have both come by one-score each — 2-1 to San Luis Obispo and 1-0 to Righetti.

Atascadero comes into tonight’s game off its first league win, a 6-4 defeat of St. Joseph on Wednesday. Although the Greyhounds came away with a win, they also allowed the Knights to score their first goals in league play this season. They had previously lost three games by a margin of 13-0.

Paso Robles beat St. Joe 6-0.

The sting of mistakes made by the Greyhounds on Wednesday were lessened by the win, but those same mistakes will be fatal as they travel to face Paso Robles on a wet and muddy field tonight.

Taking a look at what the Hounds did right on Wednesday, AHS head coach JT Camp said the team carried out their strategy.

“The game plan was to build on the success in possession of the ball, the battle for the ball, control of the middle of the field and create opportunities to score,” Camp said. “We were able to do that, and share balanced scoring.”

AHS junior Manny Perez came away with a hat trick, scoring three for the Hounds, but it was a come from behind effort.

“We had a defensive lapse in the first 8:00 and went down 1-0,” Camp said. “We told the boys we wanted a score in the next five minutes and they went out and did that.”

Atascadero did that and more. They went up 4-1.

AHS sophomore Lindley Brown, junior Carson Bedell, and junior Andrew Mosqueda also scored goals for Atascadero in the win.

“It was important to get a win,” Camp said. “We looked at the last couple games and saw we missed opportunities. It is hard to play a solid couple games but not come away with a win. Every game in league is tough, and every game counts.”

Turning their focus to Friday and the rivalry game against Paso Robles, the game plan is the same, but the stake are higher.

“All the games matter, but in terms of the rivalry there is just more at stake against Paso Robles,” Camp said.

Tonight will not be the first meeting between the rivals this season, but it will be the first one to count. In December, the Bearcats hosted the Hounds at Barney Schwartz Park in the Cats and Hounds preseason tournament, and Paso Robles earned a 3-2 win.

“I think it is pretty even,” Camp said about the teams going into tonight. “I think it is going to be a close one. At the Cats and Hounds tournament, it was what you would expect. There was a lot of emotion in it on both sides, and a lot of back and forth.”

Whichever team comes away with a win tonight will have a leg up on the race to the playoffs, and boost of confidence as the early season becomes the midseason.

There are a lot of games left, and some strong competitors along the way.

Pioneer Valley is the only team in the PAC 8 to still be undefeated through four games, and has beaten all opponents by multiple scores while not giving up a league goal yet. Atascadero will face the PVHS Panthers on Tuesday at home. Paso Robles will move on to host the Righetti Warriors.

Due to rain, previous PRHS soccer games have been rescheduled from Barney Schwartz Park to PRHS practice football field, and AHS games have also been rescheduled due to unplayable conditions at home. Check with respective schools for schedule changes.

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