May 22, 2006

Davis team nearly upsets Concord with new look and tough play

CONCORD - Dressed in white with red socks, and with re-arranged forward and defensive lines, Davis Vertigo brought more than just a new look and a new lineup to Concord; they also brought effort and determination. It all paid off with a well-played 4-0 victory over the Palo Alto Riptide to open the tournament. The front line of Connor Anderson and Eli Siegel, with Em Medina at center mid, led to two goals by Siegel and another for a wide-open Ari Styne. Luke Hampton and Matthew Austin joined the defensive unit. They not only helped Vertigo notch a shut-out, but one of Austin’s electrifying runs created a goal for the sliding Tyler Darrah. It was Anthony Berardi who most preserved the shutout with an excellent defensive play on the goal line, marking up tight when a cross came to a Riptide forward who couldn’t tip it past Berardi.

This led to an intense rubber match of the bracket against the Concord Invasion. Danny Pugh’s brilliant run down the right side put Vertigo up 1-0 in the opening minutes when his cross deflected off a Concord defender into the net. After the Invasion equalized before the half, the teams stayed even into the 45th minute. By this time, Vertigo had Concord on the ropes but let it slip away. A series of shots early in the second half missed the mark, including a ball from Medina that caught the inside of the post and came out across the face of the goal line without crossing over. In the end, Concord’s Mauricio Duran proved too much for Vertigo to handle. He placed a perfect shot after a perfect through-ball to put the Invasion up 2-1. Minutes later Invasion added another, with Duran’s assist, after a controversial send-off of Pugh left Davis a man down and confused on the restart. Concord coach Alfonso Munoz commented that the Davis team was “much improved” and appeared to be “a whole different team” from a week earlier.

In the final game, against the Pleasant Hill Vengeance, Vertigo’s finishing woes continued, as Davis squandered over 25 scoring opportunities with a combination of missed shots and off-side calls. The Vengeance keeper ably handled the few that were on the mark, including a bizarre behind-the-neck save from a shot off the crossbar. In the end, Siegel’s two goals were enough and Vertigo finally avenged the Vengeance by what seemed a disappointing score of 2-1.

Although Vertigo missed the finals, they demonstrated at the Concord Cup that they have not only rebounded from their slump, but can compete with the upper echelon. The defense and midfield were especially solid, and the offense continued to generate opportunities. Should Vertigo begin scoring on the many opportunities they create, they could conceivably challenge the top teams in the Davis World Cup.

Note: Matthew Austin defeated Eli Siegel to take first place in the Davis Vertigo Goalie-Wars Tournament.