A tale of two halves

The Atascadero Greyhounds and Templeton Eagles football teams opened their 2021 seasons Tuesday night in a championship game against each other. Tuesday’s game, which was the first North County boys soccer game of the year, was a continuous fireworks display as four goals were scored in the two halves of the game, including one in the first minute of the game.

Tuesday’s game was really a tale of two halves: Templeton controlled the first 40 minutes, scoring three goals, but the Greyhounds came back in the second half with three goals of their own. Due to a delayed and shortened season because of the COWID-19 pandemic, each team went into the first game of the season with only two weeks of practice and no scrimmage, which predictably led to some sloppy games.

The Atascadero Greyhounds and Templeton Eagles football teams opened their 2021 seasons Tuesday night. Photos by Conner Allen

The game went our way and we tied 4-4. It was a great game. I always enjoy playing against Atascadero. We took a 3-0 lead with about 30 seconds left in the first half, then gave up a goal and eventually won 3-1. In the second half, they scored three goals and we scored another, Templeton head coach Dale Wiggins said. We’ve been doing it the past few weeks, and one of the big differences this year compared to other seasons is that we don’t have any preseason games until our first league game. Normally we would have three contractions. As a team and as a coach, it gives you time to understand the players and make them understand our style of play, but without that, we learned on the field.

The Eagles have had little time to learn how to play together, but it didn’t show in their first half. Forty-five seconds after the referee’s whistle, Templeton had already taken the lead with a 35-yard shot off the foot of junior Gabe Saltero.

Saltero shined all over Templeton Field and proved that he is a key player. He scored not one, but two goals Tuesday night, scoring the Eagles’ only goal in the second half.

After taking a 1-0 lead, Templeton struggled against Atascadero for most of the first half, with both teams erasing their early weaknesses and often settling for foul passes in the final third of the field. The Eagles added two more goals in the first half to make it 3-0, but Caleb Newby of Atascadero scored the key goal of the game 30 seconds before halftime to make it 3-1 and give the Greyhounds some life.

Templeton took on Atascadero and ended the match in 4-4. Photos by Conner Allen

Probably the most important factor in Tuesday’s game was not the player or the coach, but actually the wind. Of the eight goals scored, six were on the net closest to the highway, the direction the wind was blowing. The Eagles offense looked over the top in the first half, not only shooting, but running with the wind at their backs, but the Hounds looked energized in the second half.

The wind may not have been as noticeable to the spectators as it was to the players, but the wind really dictated the game last night, AHS head coach Gary Settling said. We played the whole first half uphill and against the wind and the goal just before half time was huge. It gave us some momentum and the boys knew they weren’t going to lose. In the second half we had the wind at our backs and it was a tale of two halves; their first half was our second half.

Atascadero came out of the break with three consecutive goals, the first by Alex Orozco, the second by Ryan McLean and the third by Martin Anguiano, who made it 3-1 with eight minutes left to make it 4-3. Trailing 3-0, the Hounds held onto the lead, but just like the Eagles in the first half, a momentary lack of concentration allowed their opponents to tie the game at 4-4 before the final whistle.

Both teams return to action on Thursday in search of their first win of the season. Atascadero plays against Morro Bay and Templeton plays against Nipomo.

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