Piedmont/Campolindo: the kickin’ Cougars

To soccer nonbelievers (of which there are many, unfortunately), the thought of either a scoreless or lopsided contest is sure to induce a roll of the eyes and perhaps a feigned snore for added effect.

The poor souls just don’t know what they’re missing.

Take the Feb. 23 North Coast Section 2A boys final between Campolindo and Piedmont at Acalanes High School as a case in point. Sure, Campolindo won 6-1. But the teams were more evenly-matched than the score might indicate. Both teams showed some fine skills and an overall feel for the game. But the Cougars, most especially, gave a wonderful display of their abilities on set pieces, a part of the game that is grossly undervalued by many.

Seems the Cougars have a lot of strong-legged players. Alika Okamitsu was a joy to watch, a revelation for those who had never before seen him. Okamitsu set up the game’s first goal with a booming free kick from beyond midfield. A defender, Okamitsu exhibited speed and ball skills to go along with his booming shots and free kicks. A junior, Okamitsu surely will be one player to keep an eye on next season.

Beyond Okamitsu’s well-placed assist (Max Smith-Gee was credited with the goal), free kicks led to two other Cougars goals. And a throw-in that was flicked on before being put into the net accounted for a fourth. Further, Okamitsu wasn’t the only Cougars player capable of long-distance accuracy, as both Georgio Tavecchio and Jason Kimura scored on second-half “crackers,” as British commentators are wont to say.

A free kick also led to Piedmont’s only goal as Nikolai Littleton finished a William Young serve into the box in the late minutes. In all, Piedmont had most of the early play and finished with 12 shots to Campolindo’s 13. But in this game, every Highlanders mistake proved costly.

On paper, a 6-1 final score might not impress. But Campolindo-Piedmont made for great soccer and a great NCS final – – and on a cold, wet evening, too boot! What a great display in the value of set pieces and accurate long-range shooting!

It makes a fan want to scream for an encore!