A chippy start led to an ejection and an opening season loss for the Fallon boys soccer team.
The Greenwave played most of Wednesday’s match against Incline down a man, and the result was a 3-0 nonconference loss at the Edward Arciniega Complex.
Trailing 1-0, Fallon senior forward Keven Rutledge was fouled, but took exception to the tackle and threw a punch that missed connecting. He was given a red card and will miss the Greenwave’s next match on Sept. 13 at Spring Creek.
“That’s terrible,” Fallon coach Nate Waite said of the ejection. “We start league play a man down. We’ll adjust for it … and try to fix it and go on.”
Back on the field, Incline scored early on a fluke goal as Salavador Vargas — on a pass from Fernando Martinez — fired a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. On the deflection, the ball hit the back of Fallon goalkeeper Brandon Holler and dribbled in.
Minutes later, the Highlanders struck again when Tommy Thompson found Alex Alcantara. Alcantara fired a shot, but Holler trapped the ball, which squeezed out and trickled into the net.
“They did well, but we could’ve done a lot better finishing,” first-year Incline coach Ian Hauck said. “It’s a bit frustrating, but we’ll get there.”
In the second half, Incline’s Ray Estrada blasted a shot from 25 yards out to beat a diving Holler.
Fallon, meanwhile, played tough and had several scoring chances, but were unable to find the goal. Perhaps their best chance came on a free kick by Corbin Waite from 45 yards.
Waite struck the ball perfectly, but it bounced off the crossbar preserving the Highlander’s shutout.
Fallon’s fitness, as with Incline, was not at peak level due to the raging California wildfires. Both teams subbed consistently, a tactic Hauck said he normally does not prefer.
“They did alright,” Hauck said. “Since this is the first game of the year, we were just trying to figure out what works.”
As for Waite, being a man down forced his hand, and even though his club came up short, his younger players earned some much needed minutes.
Nevertheless, Fallon’s defense allowed Incline free rein in the center of the field, which provided scoring chances.
“To be honest, there were too many shots right in front of the goal,” Waite said. “We seem a little timid still, waiting for the ball to come to us.”
Inclince dominated possession in the first half as Fallon gave chase. In the second half, even a man down, the Wave calmed down and moved the ball around creating runs and chances.
“I thought in the second half we played them pretty even,” Waite said.