Healdsburg maintains second place amid swirl of controversy
There are times on the high school playing field when sports transcend life and the only thing that matters are the teachable moments that follow.
Players and fans in attendance had such a moment when Healdsburg took the field for its scheduled home varsity soccer match against Rancho Cotate on Senior Night on Jan. 31, a game that held much more meaning than a mere North Bay League battle for second place.
Two nights earlier, the Hounds played visiting Elsie Allen to a 2-2 tie in a hotly contested match. Tempers flared following the game, with both benches emptying and players jawing at midfield. The melee caused spectators from each side to spill onto the field, an ugly confrontation that nearly boiled out of control.
The following day, HHS principal Bill Halliday reviewed the video and was so alarmed at what he saw – particularly from the spectators involved – that he decided to ban all fans from the upcoming home match with Rancho Cotate.
“Adults running onto the field is not a situation that will make things any safer for anyone and is not something we will tolerate,” Halliday said. “We’ve had some prior issues with parents harassing referees at JV games and I could see the danger if this type of behavior continued.”
Halliday called meetings with both Hounds’ players and parents, laying out his plans to ban spectators at the next match, which happened to be Senior Night. But after persuasive arguments and assurances of safety from both groups, it was decided that fans would be permitted to attend Senior Night as planned.
Thursday’s match against Rancho – played with heightened security – proved to be a fiercely contested but clean contest throughout, the way soccer was meant to be played. Following a scoreless first half, the Greyhounds got second-half goals from senior forwards Eric Guzman and David Botello en route to a 2-0 victory.
“I think players and parents responded in a beautiful way and it was a great match,” Halliday noted later.
Hounds coach Herbert Lemus, who’s nearly seen and done it all in nearly two decades with the boys and girls soccer programs, was equally pleased with how the match and evening played out.
“Both teams played well and it was a hard but cleanly played match,” he said. “The teams displayed good technical abilities and tactical awareness.”
At press time Healdsburg (3-2-3, 5-4-5) was preparing to close out the NBL season on the road at Santa Rosa (Feb. 5) and Windsor (Feb. 8, 7 p.m.).
Ladies fall to Rancho, El Molino
The Lady Greyhounds will be looking for a strong finish to the winter season this week when they close it out with road matches at Santa Rosa (Feb. 6) and Elsie Allen (Feb. 8, 6 p.m.).
Healdsburg (1-7, 1-13) is coming off a pair of losses in NBL Redwood Division play, falling to Rancho Cotate (10-0) and El Molino (3-2).