Eagles battle Hornets to a tie in season opener


Calera High School goalkeeper Jescan Sanchez put on a spectacular show against Chelsea as he time and time again kept his team alive with Chelsea pounding out 36 shots on the senior keeper in a 2-2 tie in the Eagles’ season opener Feb. 16.

Chelsea’s leading scorer, Will Bevill, started the night with several great shots and Sanchez dazzled the crowd with impressive, diving saves keeping the game scoreless for the first 20 minutes. Finally, Chelsea broke through as Shelton Smith took the ball to the left baseline and dropped it back to Bevill who knocked in an easy goal into the right corner passed an outstretched Sanchez.

A few minutes later, Chelsea (1-0-1) struck again, as Cody Hood hit a perfect strike from about 18 yards out into the lower left corner of the goal, and Chelsea led 2-0. Chelsea had several chances to extend the led but every time, Sanchez came up with solid and sometimes amazing saves.

In the second half, Calera (0-0-1) finally found the back of the net on a free kick. As Chelsea prepared its defensive wall and Goalkeeper Aaron Roberts (who was playing in place of regular starter Josh Carpenter who was sick) was setting up his defenders,  Calera’s Irvin Alvarenga alertly kicked the ball into the open goal, cutting the led to one. As the game wound down, Chelsea looked to have sealed the victory as Smith gathered the ball off a Noah Weaver free kick and punched it into the goal. However, he was ruled offside, so the goal was disallowed.

In the final seconds, Calera played a desperate through ball to try to find an equalizer, but Roberts was there to scoop up the ball and seemingly let the clock expire, but instead he lost the ball and in a confused cluster of players, Alvarenga again alertly scored with 4 seconds left, bringing the game level for the dramatic draw.

“This game is a lesson for our guys that you have take advantage of your opportunities,” Miller said. “We had 36 shots to Calera’s four, but they played smart, and we wasted chances.”

Sanchez finished with 18 saves in the match.

“It’s one of the greatest goalkeeper performances I’ve ever seen at this level,” Miller said. “I can’t believe what I saw.”