The Piedmont High School boys soccer team gathered around coach Todd Sullivan on the artificial turf at Burrell Field on Feb. 1. The Highlanders had just defeated San Leandro 3-1 in a match they controlled most of the way. But Sullivan had other things on his mind.
He wanted to check everyone on their health entering the final week of the regular season, when Piedmont would face Bishop O’Dowd and Berkeley. And he wanted to remind them that the focus for the team would be the North Coast Section Division 3 playoffs.
“For the playoffs, I think this is about getting healthy,” Sullivan said. “This is a very small group so a lot of players have played a lot of minutes and I’m just concerned about that. I want to rest where possible so we’re ready for the week after next.”
The Highlanders are now 10-1-2 on the year, 5-1-2 in West Alameda County Conference Foothill Division play. Sullivan said the team’s hot start – it won seven of its first eight games and tied the other – gave his players confidence. But some minor injuries have slowed it down. In the previous game, Piedmont tied Mt. Eden 1-1.
“We started fantastically,” Sullivan said. “We went on a long streak, didn’t lose a game until the O’Dowd game. The last week or so we trailed off. It depends who you play. I think we generally raise our play against better opposition.
“I’m looking for a reaction next week against very good opposition. I’m pretty confident in this group.”
The Highlanders finish the regular season at Bishop O’Dowd on Feb. 6 and then at home at Witter Field for the first time all year against Berkeley on Feb. 8.
Against San Leandro, Aiden Woolwine got things started with a goal in the ninth minute. Piedmont kept the action mostly in the Pirates end of the field the rest of the first half, generating multiple chances. But a defensive breakdown in the 38th minute allowed San Leandro’s Angel Gonzalez to get loose and score the equalizer. It was 1-1 at halftime.
The Highlanders got the lead for good in the 44th minute when Logan Faucher scored.
“It was a closer goal than I wanted it to be,” Faucher said. “It wasn’t as clean as I wanted to strike it but it went in.”
Bosco Lorin scored four minutes later on his own rebound to make it 3-1.
“I had to stay back and watch the line because they were playing a high line,” Lorin said. “I had to wait for the ball to be played. As soon as it’s played, I’m gone. I’m in there. I just take it and finish it with my right foot.”
Both Faucher and Lorin said Piedmont needs to raise its level of play.
“We did not play our best game tonight but we got the job done and that’s what matters,” Lorin said. “On to next week.”
Added Faucher, “Make sure we’re focused on next week. One of our hardest weeks of the season so far.”
In the tie against Mt. Eden, Faucher, his brother Jacob, Jacques Saldanha, and Mateo DeVries were all out. The Monarchs went up 1-0 on a penalty kick in the first half and that was the score at halftime.
Oliver Shafroth finally got the tying goal in the 71st minute off a sequence started by an Enzo Bernales corner kick.
“We’ve got some tired legs, we’re a little beat up from last week’s games,” Lorin said.