LOVELAND — A budding rivalry really doesn't get off the ground without some controversy involved, and it didn't take long for that to happen in the new Tri-Valley League matchup that is Loveland and Holy Family.
In a game that featured quite a bit of back-and-forth between the Tigers and Indians on Wednesday night, the conversation piece that is a foul in the box and an ensuing penalty kick early in the second half was the difference in a 2-1 win for Holy Family, an outcome which kept it undefeated in league play at 4-0.
But call it what it was — a pretty good battle for an airbound soccer ball between Holy Family's Dylan McIntosh and Loveland goalkeeper Nick Barbattini — that had the attacker on the ground and the sound of a whistle resonating through the windy air surrounding the Mountain View High School field. Darin Chavers took the penalty kick in the 53rd minute, made it with ease to give Holy Family a 2-0 advantage, and the Tigers were able to hang on to the win.
McIntosh set up the game's first goal 59 seconds into the second half and was a thorn in the side of the Indians (6-4, 2-2) all game long. For the Tigers, finally breaking through in the second half cast aside some trepidation after a scoreless first 40 minutes.
"It think it was really good because it gave us just a little bit more composure and it definitely set up the tempo for the rest of the half the way we wanted to be," McIntosh said of his third assist of the year, which also set up Chavers. "None of us really felt great going into the half because we didn't score and we didn't finish chances."
"We definitely had to depend on Dylan's speed outside to get some good crosses in, and our center back Alex (Troso) played some great balls," said Holy Family coach David Martinez, whose team (7-2-1 overall) has a non-league game against D'Evelyn on Friday. "We got the next step we wanted to in the second half, and that was our midfielders just taking more shots."
In all likelihood, this marked the first time Loveland and Holy Family have ever played against each other — Loveland a long-time big-school program while Holy Family has only recently moved into the 4A ranks.
Barbattini kept the game from being a runaway for Holy Family, making big stops in the 7th, 12th, 21st and 26th minutes as Holy Family outshot Loveland 10-5 in the first half.
However, McIntosh had a playmaker's mindset right after the break, and after getting the ball on his foot about 30 yards out the sophomore was able to whip around a single defender, lean in as he crashed toward the goal and unleash a pass back to the middle of the goal box — a pass that Chavers made sure not to miss.
"I saw the chance to take the space and didn't really expect to get past him, but I did and then looked for whatever I could get," McIntosh said. "We capitalized, fortunately."
The two would nearly connect again about four minutes later, and Holy Family continued to test the through ball on the attack until producing the opportunity for McIntosh that led to the foul.
For Loveland, the PK did not break their will to compete and in fact made the final 25 minutes a battle for positioning from end line to end line. The Indians managed only one shot on goal in the second half but made it count as Bergen Quale knocked in a slowly developed corner kick in the 59th minute.
The Indians evened out possession over that final stretch of play but the Holy Family defense did what it took to seal lanes and prevent shots.
"That was a big call in the game, but at the end of the day it's not why we lost the game," Loveland coach Coert Voorhees said. "We had opportunities we didn't take advantage of and they did. They were a team that worked together, and I thought we were pretty good on that end, too.
"This was a big win in my mind, as far as the way our team took a step forward as a unit."
Holy Family and Skyline will match up next Monday night in a game that could determine the league champ. The Falcons moved to 3-0 in league with a 1-0 win against Windsor on Wednesday.
Holy Family 2, Loveland 1
At Mountain View HSHoly Family (7-2-1, 4-0) 0 2 — 2
Loveland (6-4, 2-2) 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) —Holy Family: Darin Chavers (Dylan McIntosh assist), 41st minute; Holy Family: D. Chavers (penalty kick), 53rd; Loveland: Bergen Quale (assist n/a), 59th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Holy Family: Liam Burns (80-1-2); Loveland: Nick Barbattini (80-2-8).