Dougherty Valley varsity boys soccer defies expectations and fights backlash


Jack Ke

Monte Vista and Dougherty Valley male soccer players head towards the ball in the middle of their heated EBAL game.

On Feb. 22, Dougherty Valley took a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Monte Vista, ending their sensational season run in the NCS tournament. 

At the start of the game, both teams came out with guns blazing as junior Kyle Young dribbled into the midfield initiating Dougherty’s attack. However, Monte Vista kept Dougherty at bay, stopping many throw-ins and controlling the midfield.                                           
Monte Vista capitalized on their fast front line, playing long balls for their attackers to chase onto. But Dougherty’s back-line remained steady with Junior Shota Lam making excellent header clearances and Young coming back for support. However, Monte Vista’s senior Alex Muniz set precedent to the match, forcing throw-ins that soared dangerously across Dougherty’s box repeatedly throughout the half. 

In the 10th minute, Monte Vista came in with a crushing blow, with #10 senior Stefan Zanati dribbled past defenders and shot just outside of the 18 yard box past Dougherty Valley sophomore goalkeeper David Ruy. Monte Vista’s bench cleared as they ran towards the edge of the box in celebration. 

Monte Vista remained dominant in the first half, with a couple of close calls. In the 29th minute, Monte Vista’s corner kick sails into the box, just barely going over the bar. The rest of the half remained in a back and forth but no clear chance on goal, ending the half 1-0. 

Entering the second half, Dougherty once again came out with intensity. In the 13th minute into the second half, Dougherty Valley Striker Matas Drevinskas headers the ball hitting the crossbar and bringing the crowd to its feet. In the 28th minute, the first card came out as a Monte Vista midfielder shoved Dougherty midfielder sophomore Praneel Siddireddy, earning a yellow card for the Mustangs. 

With the second half edged to an end and unsuccessful close calls from Dougherty, the intensity picked up. Both teams came out pressing forward with senior Gerard Kong dribbling past defenders on the wing. The game had been physical throughout and the lack of calls by the referee infuriated the crowd. 

During extra time, goal-keeper Ruy comes into Monte Vista’s box for Dougherty’s last attack. The ball sails into the box but is cleared out for a corner kick. However, with the end of stoppage time, the ref blows his whistle signaling the end of the game.

Though Dougherty’s season ended without the NCS title, it was far from a failure as they secured the EBAL title, a first in Dougherty’s history. Just two years ago, Dougherty sat at the bottom of their bracket, failing to score a single goal or win any games. 

“Two years ago, our team was zero in seven, and we hadn’t scored a single goal,” senior Anthony Yousef remembered. “Every team was running through us and we were that one team where everyone’s just like, ‘Oh, it’s a free win.’”

And yet, sitting at the bottom, the team maintains its core value: teamwork. As they climbed the ranks, their teamwork and chemistry uplifted them, paving the way for improvement. 

“Everyone plays their heart out. Once they’re on the field, it’s just a big family,” Yousef said. “Everyone is there to back each other out. Everyone plays their heart out.”

But Dougherty’s success was not out of thin air as it was much more of a rebuilding process. Edging near the start of the pandemic a couple years ago, the coaching staff had seen many changes. As a result, the team’s strategy came with additional changes, and they’ve become more focused towards being a possession heavy team. 

“We’re definitely a possession-based team. The more we keep the ball, the more we enjoy it,” Head Coach Bijan Sadeghy commented. “We go out there and show it every time and I would say we work hard on defense, but we’re definitely an offensive style team.”

By surrounding the team with a staff that could provide useful guidance in remodeling the team, the team began its early transformational stages. 

“The coaching staff is great,” Yousef said. “They have down the strategies, they know the tactics, and they got everything well.”

With a new strategy towards success, the success came through blood-shed tears off the pitch. Undoubtedly, the work ethic put into practice has prepared the team to step up to home plate. 

“We’ve been putting in the work since June,” senior Marcos Perez said. “We got to execute what we’ve been working on all year.”

And through this intense practice, spirits have been high as all players were motivated to reach the large demand. 

“From the beginning of the year up until now, even last year, we bought in and really believed in what we’re doing,” Coach Sadeghy remarked. 

Undoubtedly, their spirits were crucial in continuing their fight to become the first-ever EBAL Champions in the history of men’s soccer at Dougherty. But in the future, there is much success to suspect of Dougherty with such a young and talented team. Armed with the experience and rising talent, Dougherty Valley is the team to look at.