GARDEN VALLEY — Monday’s Sierra Delta League matchup pitting Encina against host Golden Sierra went as expected between two sides on opposite ends of the standings. Put bluntly, the second-place Bulldogs (8-1) played offense while the last-place Grizzlies (1-7-1) chased on defense.
That described 80 minutes on the pitch that ended in a 3-0 Encina victory. The ‘Dogs scored twice in the first half and added one in the second.
While two of Encina’s goals came in the box, Golden Sierra’s starting defense of Jesus Santos, Joe Webb, Alonso Santos and Brandon Susic did a credible job keeping the Bulldogs away — forcing the visitors to fire from long-range at Griz keeper Alex Murray.
Murray made clutch pickups, dives, grabs and catches, including several slide challenges, but couldn’t stop them all. Encina broke through when Ghaith Eeso lined up a shot from beyond the 18 that nicked the bottom of the crossbar and went in for the 1-nil advantage.
The Bulldogs’ offensive prowess prevented any Grizzly attack and negated midfielders Kyle Shiba and John Oules along with striker Austin Spencer’s ability to counter onto Encina’s side of the field.
Golden Sierra musters just one shot at goal, early in the second half on a Shiba-to-Will Cann-to-Webb touch that produced Webb’s kick that was easily handled by the Bulldogs’ keeper.
Encina scored its second goal right before halftime when Luis Vazquez found Sebastian Santos behind the Grizzly line and Murray didn’t have a chance.
Multiple stops from Deo Aualos and Tyray Carpenter kept the match at a two-goal deficit in the second half as did Alonso’s weak side block. Sebastian notched his second goal on a header off a cross by Brando Alvarez that cleared Murray.
Both squads changed their lineups after halftime. A Susic-Shiba-Webb-Shiba possession that earned a corner kick presented Golden Sierra with its last chance but Encina made the stop as time expired.