Norte Vista at Arlington Men’s Football (with photos) – Press Enterprise
RIVERSIDE – It’s been over six years since Arlington’s men’s football team last won against Norte Vista, and that streak has just grown a bit longer.
Salvador Valladares scored from the penalty spot to equalize in the second half as Norte Vista rallied to a 1-1 draw at Arlington on Tuesday night in an opener of the River Valley League.
“It was a (hell) fun game to watch,” said Norte Vista coach Matt Beliveau. “They passed us because of their experience, so we had to catch up and then we progressed more and more in the game.”
Hector Gaxiola scored on an assist from Daniel Hernandez in the first half for undefeated Arlington (9-0-4), who controlled great stretches in the first 40 minutes with creative midfield play and entries dangerous in the third striker.
But Arlington, the No.1 team in the CIF South Section Division 3 standings, haven’t beaten Norte Vista since December 2015 and are 0-4-3 against the Braves since 2016.
“All respect for (Norte Vista),” said Arlington coach Kevin Watson. “They have a system and they stick to it. Still a 4-4-2, low risk at the back and they’re disciplined.
Leading 1-0, Arlington nearly added a second goal late in the first half, but Hernandez’s shot echoed under the crossbar before bouncing off the pitch. The Lions also hit the frame twice more in the second half.
Norte Vista goalie Kevin Nevarez made two solid saves in the first half, and the Braves (7-2-3) pushed high early in the second half to force Arlington to make heavy hits and costly turnarounds.
“We are Norte Vista. This is what we do, ”said Béliveau. “We came up with a game plan and we tried to execute it as best we could.”
In the 52nd minute, Gersain Espinoza got the fault when entering the box. Valladares hit the penalty strong and low and out of reach of Arlington goalkeeper Rigoberto Gonzales to tie the score.
Norte Vista defeated Arlington 4-0 last April and the teams played a scoreless draw near the end of the 2021 regular season. The Braves went on to play in the CIF-SS Division 4 and CIF- regional title games. State Division III.
“This is only the first game in the league, so as far as people are excited for this game – and they should be – there are 10 games in the league (and) not a single one,” said Béliveau.
The teams will face off in the return leg on January 20 in Norte Vista.
“(Norte Vista) has similar characteristics to our school,” Watson said. “They have kids who love to play, play for each other and they have an identity, and that’s why we love to play them.”