Exeter boys soccer kicks off season with a win

Strathmore’s Jonathan Gonzalez dribbles the ball against Exeter. With their loss to Exeter, the Strathmore Spartans dropped to 0-1-1 on the young season. (Kason Clark)

The Monarchs hold off Strathmore for a 4-3 victory in their season opener; Jesus Lara scores three goals in the win for Exeter

EXETER – The high school boys soccer season is getting rolling in the Central Valley as the Strathmore Spartans visited the Exeter Monarchs. While Strathmore had already played a match this year, this was the Monarchs’ season opener.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the Monarchs started strong as they raced out to a 2-0 lead before the Spartans came back to knot things up at 3-3. But with regulation coming to a close, Exeter’s Jesus Lara knocked in what would be the deciding goal in a 4-3 victory for the Monarchs. With many inexperienced players starting to open the year, Exeter head coach Pete Renteria was pleased with the Monarchs’ victory.

“I’m really excited. We have seven first-year starters on the field tonight so it was really nice to get a good result,” Renteria said. “It was good to see them playing and performing well, especially being freshmen.”

The Monarchs took the lead in the first half thanks to a goal from Irwin German Lara, a team effort they took into halftime. Then early in the second half, Jesus Lara scored his first goal of the night to give Exeter a 2-0 lead.

After a scoreless first half, the Spartans finally got on the board thanks to a deep kick from Jesus Medrana. Later in the half, Jonathan Gonzalez scored another goal for Strathmore to make it a 2-2 game with about 20 minutes left in the regulation.

Over the next ten minutes, the Monarchs and Spartans exchanged goals. Jesus Lara scored again for Exeter as he gave his team a 3-2 lead. But minutes later, Saul Diaz knocked in a goal from deep to tie the game, 3-3, with less than 15 minutes remaining. After a strong first half defensively, Renteria believes a couple mistakes allowed the Spartans to get back into the game.

“We got a little bit ahead of ourselves in the second half a little bit and a couple of things slipped through,” Renteria said. “But those are fixable things.”

Exeter goalkeeper Julian Alcaraz kicks the ball against Strathmore. (Kason Clark)

With the game tied again, the Monarchs looked for a goal to retake the lead and avoid overtime. And Jesus Lara answered the call as he took the ball from the Strathmore goalie and kicked it in for the go-ahead score. After giving up the lead earlier in the half, Jesus Lara and his team rallied to secure the win to open the season.

“We just worked as a team and brought each other up,” Jesus Lara said.

The Strathmore Spartans are still looking for their first win of the season as they now drop to 0-1-1. While he wishes his players could have closed the deal against Exeter, Strathmore head coach Eric Romero was proud of his team’s effort in the comeback and hopes to see that going forward. 

“I just like the attitude of everybody. They continued to fight as they were down and came back to tie it up,” Romero said. “As far as having a young group, it’s pretty impressive to see that they have grit and they’re going to continue to fight to the end.”

While they have a win in their first game of the year, the Monarchs have plenty of work ahead of them over the coming months. As they move forward, Renteria hopes to see the Monarchs continue to grow as they look to compete this winter.

“The focus is going to continue to work on the defense,” Renteria said. “Just focusing on our defense and getting our defense better so we’re more solid so we don’t have to score so many goals on offense.”

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