The San Quentin Youngsters soccer team was eager for some “get back” against the visiting Hermanos Unidos team but ended the season with another loss. Hermanos Unidos won, 7-5.
Two weeks prior, The Youngsters lost 6-5 to Hermanos Unidos. The Youngsters looked forward to Sunday morning, Nov. 19, for a chance to avenge the previous close game.
It was a sunny day, a perfect day to play soccer. The only thing missing were the guests who were due to arrive at 9 a.m.
After 10 a.m. with no sign of the visiting team, the young players began to feel a little anxious. They were continually glancing at the yard entrance. Suddenly, the faces of the players lit up with joy as they saw the visiting team strolling down the prison yard toward the soccer field wearing all black – colors the prison doesn’t allow incarcerated people to wear. It was the last game of a memorable soccer season. Both teams, visiting and incarcerated, greeted each other with a heartfelt embrace, then they started warm-ups.
The game began at the sound of a whistle. Hermanos Unidos took control of the fútbol from the get-go. With an aggressive formation of 3-3-4, it was obvious that they wanted to intimidate their opponent. Their offensive setup positioned four strikers aimed at scoring goals. That strategy paid off 10 minutes later when Christian Cervantes kicked in a 20-footer for the first goal of the match.
The visiting team broke down the Youngsters’ defense countless times with one-touch passes, and Hermanos Unidos increased its lead in the 12 and 15 minutes of the game.
The “home” team seemed confused and shocked. They couldn’t believe how easily they were being dominated.
Dario Abramskiehn, who originally played for the “Outsiders” team, came to play with Hermanos Unidos. He became one of the key players and scored back-to-back goals, increasing the lead 5-0.
Close to the end of the first half, the Youngsters scored their first goal. However, their celebration was soon overshadowed by another goal from the visiting team. At halftime, the score was 6-1 in favor of the Hermanos Unidos.
The Youngsters appeared glad the first half was over. Brandon Hidalgo, the captain for the San Quentin team, gathered his teammates and gave them an inspirational pep talk.
Starting the second half, the Youngsters made a few adjustments and substitutions. They looked like a different team. They were hustling and began to play for each other. That strategy paid off as Cesar Delgado, the best forward for the Youngsters, scored in minutes 55 and 60, completing a hat trick in minute 75. With the score 6-4, the Youngsters kept pushing hard in an effort to tie the game, but Marco Villa the OG’s goalkeeper who played that day for the Hermanos Unidos, saved the day with countless stops. The visiting team looked exhausted and depleted; in the last 15 minutes of the game they were just defending.
Miguel Gutiérrez took advantage of a loose ball and scored the fifth goal with 12 minutes left in the game.
The visiting team caught a break and broadened their lead when Oscar “Flaco” Aguilar tried to kick the ball, but it diverted into his own team’s goal – for the third time during the season.
Hermanos Unidos achieved a 7-5 victory.
At the end of the game, all the players huddled up for the traditional parting words—for the last time in 2017.
Carlos Meza, defender of the OG’s team, said, “I really appreciate each one of you for a wonderful season, and I am looking forward for the next one.”
Jorge Heredia thanked Andrew Crawford, the San Quentin soccer program sponsor, for a “historical season.”
As all team players wished “happy holidays” to one another, it was touching to witness the amazing bond that soccer created among these men.
– Marco Villa contributed to this story