The Lassen High School boys’ soccer team battles the elements on a weekly basis by improving their dribbling and taking countless shots on goal in below-freezing temperatures.
The latest Grizzly triumph came at the hands of a home game against the Oroville Tigers on Friday, Dec. 16.
With fans bundled in blankets and sipping the sweet elixir of hot chocolate, the boys put on a true show against the Tigers and ended up with the gold as the final score was 6-2 in Lassen’s favor.
The winter sport holds many challenges, but Lassen has shown that it is ready to take them all head-on.
With one muddy goal cage, a wind carrying the chill and more than enough frozen blades of grass, the game was a show of talent and adaptability.
Within the first 15 minutes of the game, striker Anthony Wagner had raised the score 2-0 with ease.
Coach Matthew Shirley said, “Lassen came out strong with Anthony Wagner scoring a hat trick in the first 12 minutes of play. Wagner’s first goal was a chip over the defensive line by Ryan Williams. Wagner was able to win the ball out of the air (and) place it with his head over the Oroville goal keeper.”
With one goal in Lassen’s favor, the game was clearly starting off well. However, the single-point lead was not enough for Wagner.
Shirley later continued, “Next goal for Wagner came from a pass through the Oroville defensive from team captain Kaden Goforth. Wagner caught the goal keeper out of position for the finish.”
Lassen has shown the value it places behind teamwork since the first pre-conference game against Foothill on Dec. 2. Though Lassen has struggled to hold an overwhelming winning streak, the season is looking bright for the team if the boys can continue working together.
Wagner is a strength for the team and cooperation with teammates only allows the group to grow stronger. He scored his third goal with less than 20 minutes remaining of the first half.
Wagner’s goal was the result of another misstep by the Oroville keeper that ultimately allowed the goal to be clear of obstacles. Alberto Lacedelli saw the opportunity and made a swift pass to Wagner, who then shot and made the third Lassen point.
Oroville was clearly in the disadvantage, but with the first quarter of the game seemingly dedicated to the victory of Lassen, the Tigers had enough.
Oroville players attempted to redeem themselves and thus attacked the Grizzly goal several times.
However, the Lassen Grizzly keeper Ethan Heffner was eager for action as well, as most of his time at the game had been spent watching the ball make its way into the Tiger goal, so his saves were consistently good.
As if Heffner wasn’t enough to keep the Tigers away, the Grizzlies also had captain Dustin Morgan leading the defensive line for the game. With Dustin Morgan’s efforts and senior player Joe Winfrey’s relentless counterattacks, the Grizzlies quickly shut down each Tiger move.
Lacedelli brought the attention back on him as he gained possession of the ball from a pass by senior player Bo Morgan.
With no apparent sense of urgency, Lacedelli took a step back from the ball and launched himself forward to deliver a kick that sent the ball flying. The Tiger keeper leaped straight up but still managed to miss the ball that barely grazed the top of the goal before sinking into the net.
A score of 4-0 wasn’t providing any hope of Tiger victory, but Oroville refused to throw in the towel.
In a moment of mischievous brilliance, Lacedelli took the plunge and intercepted an Oroville pass while the ball was still in Tiger territory.
With the ball at the will of his foot, Lacedelli dribbled away from Oroville defense and delivered an outside shot to the upper right corner of the goal.
Lacedelli’s goal was the last of the first half. The halftime break was called with 5-0 favoring the Grizzlies.
The second half welcomed the players by switching territories. Unfortunately for Lassen, the many victories of the first half were prepared to bite them. The goal was a muddy mess from the many scrambles of the game, so Lassen’s keeper Heffner was facing some trouble.
The messy goal surely took its toll on Lassen as the Tigers entered the second half strong and scored two goals within a two-minute span of one another.
Finally, upping the Oroville tally felt sweet to the Tigers, but celebration came to soon for the away team.
Oroville did well with their consistent pressure on the Lassen defense, but the home defensive line was back in action after the Tiger’s second goal, and they vowed it to be Oroville’s last.
Dustin Morgan played a huge part in the defensive success as his agility and ruthlessness allowed three saves on the goal line, despite the deteriorating field conditions.
Shirley said, “With 15 minutes to go, Lassen found its groove again and gained control of the game.”
Shirley later continued, “Goforth sent a perfect pass to Bo Morgan, who was able to penetrate the Oroville defense with a 40 run on goal for the final score of the game.”
Pride was beaming not only on the faces of the Grizzly players, but also behind the stifled grins plastered on the Lassen coaches’ faces.
The Grizzlies were rewarded for their diligence with a final score of 6-2. With mud-stained clothes and sweaty faces, the temperature no longer affected the boys; their bodies were fueled purely from the adrenaline of victory.
The win against Oroville marked the third victory of Lassen’s winning streak. The first two were against Los Molinos with a final score of 7-3 and Yreka with a final score of 1-0.
The Grizzlies will be re-taking the field with a game against Durham on Jan. 6 at Riverside Park in Susanville. The Durham game is the final practice run for Lassen before the start of the league. With how the boys played against Oroville, the season is looking to be one of Lassen High’s strongest.