"There was definitely a revenge factor," said Antioch assistant coach Christian Lopez in regard to the win over the Wolverines. "They beat us last year, and this year we wanted to get the trophy back."
The Panthers got out to an early lead as Alexander Pena blasted home a goal just 6:00 into the contest, with Hugo Lopez picking up the assist. Antioch extended its lead in the second half when Jordan Zerbini found the back of the net with his penalty kick at 53:00.
The Wolverines trimmed the Antioch lead back down to a single goal at 66:00, when Chris Martinez scored unassisted. But the Panthers regrouped and played excellent defense the rest of the way, and goalkeeper Chris Bates recorded six saves, as Antioch hung on for the one-goal victory.
Antioch (12-4-1, 7-2-1) remains in second place in the Bay Valley Athletic League, just four points behind De La Salle (14-2-3, 8-0-2), which remains unbeaten in league play. Still, the team continues to focus on taking care of its own business rather than worrying about catching the Spartans.
"We're not focused on De La Salle," explained Lopez at Monday's practice, as the team prepared for Tuesday's contest at Pittsburg. "We're just focused on the last four games; Pitt's next and we'll take it from there."
The strong play of Panthers' seniors Mark Smith (defender), Marcos Hernandez (defender) and Zerbini (midfielder) has buoyed the team into playoff contention, and the team's hunger for playoff soccer has them in great position for a postseason birth.
"We're looking good for the playoffs right now," said Lopez. "We have big wins over Richmond and Berkeley on our non-league schedule - we hope that the selection committee sees those wins, along with how well we played in our own league, and that we get into the playoffs … It's been a long time since this team made the playoffs."
The Panthers hit a roadblock on Tuesday afternoon, struggling to a 1-1 tie against rival Pittsburg. Antioch never found the net against the Pirates, although it took a 1-0 lead into halftime thanks to a Pittsburg "own goal" in the 40th minute. This was the second and final meeting between the two teams this year. Their first contest ended in a scoreless tie.
Antioch hosted Ygnacio Valley (4-7-4, 3-4-2) Thursday, Jan. 25, after The Press went to publication, and return to the field Tuesday, Jan. 30, when it hosts Liberty (5-6-2, 4-5-1) at 5:30 p.m.