SAN JOSE, CA - On a chilly Thursday night, Leland and Lincoln tied 0-0 in a BVAL Mt. Hamilton Division match-up. The two teams are currently first and second in the A league, with Lincoln in first place by two points.
Leland was the aggressor in the first half pushing the pace and keeping the talented Lincoln back line under pressure. Possibly the best chance for Leland came in the 11th minute when Charger captain Santiago Gonzalez flicked the ball over the top to on running Zachery Tiexiera for a close distance shot. However his shot was directly at Lincoln Lions goalkeeper Anthony Angeles.
Leland continued to find decent chances through set pieces, including multiple dangerous corner kicks. While Gonzalez looked dangerous on the ball throughout for the Chargers, the Lincoln defense was quick to close in. Lincoln started to create some its own momentum towards the later part of the first half once the game settled down. The Lions started finding possession on the ground, predominately through Diego Baca in the middle of the field. Indeed it was Lincoln who had the last two shots of the half.
The second half was much more balanced in terms of possession, with rare chances throughout the half for both teams. Leland had a great chance with Alex Bejar's shot in the 50th minute, but the freshman failed to convert. Lincoln's best chances came off consecutive corner kicks in the 54th and 57th minute, both chances the Lions almost assuredly would have scored, however Leland GK Tanner Frank stayed strong. The game got a little testy in the end, especially with Lincoln who 3 yellow cards on the night. But the Lions held strong late on to preserve the tie.
The tie is a mixed result for both teams, it kept Leland (7-1-6, 2-0-2) out of getting into the first place spot, but also kept Lincoln (6-4-4, 3-0-1) from extending its lead.
"The game never opened up for us fully, Lincoln did a good job of closing us down. They're a good, hard team. It was a hard game," said Leland coach Roheet Sen. In the future, Sen says the goal remains the same, to be the top team in the BVAL.
Leland senior captain Michael Esmali is one of the leaders that Sen relies on heavily.
"It was a back and forth game, with both teams having chances. It was a typical league. Our goals remain the same," Esmali said. "With this team we should definitely be aiming for the Open Division or Division 1, but we are focused right now on winning league."
"It was a tough game, pretty balanced. They had the better possession in the first half, but we started to play better as the game went on and we had chances to score in the second half," said Lincoln coach Juan Torres. "Starting in league play we made some changes to our back line and its worked for us, we've only given up one league goal so far in four games. It was an important point, to come here on the road."
With the new truncated schedule the BVAL introduced this year, their are only ten league games and only six games left, which means every game is crucial. Lincoln travels next week to Pioneer on Monday and hosts Santa Teresa on Thursday. Leland has arguably the game of the week in the BVAL Monday night when they host defending champions Branham, who are 3 points behind Lincoln and one point behind Leland. The Chargers travel to Leigh on Thursday.