From the Press Box: The biggest victory was not in the final score

Yes, the Bluejays triumphed Friday, but the real win was not recorded by the scoreboard.

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Opinion and Insight

The final score will tell you who won a game. There are times, however, when victory is not determined by numbers on a scoreboard, and Friday was one such occasion.

The Perry boys soccer team hosted Indianola at Dewey Field Friday for non-conference matches at both the junior varsity and varsity level.



Perry prevailed in both contests, defeating the Indians, 5-1, in the varsity match after scoring a 7-0 win in the JV game. The triumph by the Bluejay JV allowed the squad to finish their season undefeated and with one tie, but it was one particular goal in the first contest — and the final five minutes of the latter — that were most important.

Manuel Molina is a senior for the Bluejays and despite being an upperclassman had not seen any varsity — and little JV — playing time. However, Friday was Senior Night for Perry, and that is where Molina’s night to remember began.

“Manuel is a kid who is not the best player on the team; he doesn’t have the greatest skills or the most talent but for the last couple of years he has come to practice, put in the time, never complained and did what we asked of him (and, quite frankly, sometimes that was a lot),” Perry varsity head coach Gary Overla said. “The JV players wanted Manuel to be their captain, so we started him and made him team captain for this game.”

So far, so good, right? The kid who is most likely going to be the last picked when sides are chosen is allowed to be the captain and start. Nice story, right? It gets better.

“In the second half, Manuel scored the only goal of his career,” Overla related. “It wasn’t some cheap goal that dribbled in or deflected off a defender. He gathered the ball in the box after being shoved in the back by the goalie, and with his back to the goal turned his hips and placed a half-volley shot into the upper right 90 degree point of the far post — his goal was absolutely exquisite.”

Perry senior Manuel Molina saw his the first varsity action of his career Friday when he was inserted into a match against Indianola.
Perry senior Manuel Molina saw the the first varsity action of his career Friday when he was inserted into a match against Indianola.

While the crowd — especially the Perry students — responded with excitement, Molina’s teammates exploded with joy.

“The reaction of our team after Manuel’s goal might have led you to believe that we had just won a sub-state championship game,” Overla said. “We celebrated that goal more than any I can remember in a long time.

“On behalf of myself and the other coaches on staff I want to say how proud we are of Manuel, not because of the goal that he scored, but because of the fact that he has stuck with it and endured and finally was able to have success,” the coach concluded.

Molina’s night was far from over. Leading 2-1, the Bluejays scored three times in a five-minute span late in the varsity contest to create an opportunity for a senior who had never seen the varsity pitch.

To the raucous reaction of the Perry students, Molina was inserted into the contest with just over five minutes remaining. The Bluejay players clearly made every effort to send the ball to Molina, with several players passing up open teammates to try and force a pass to the popular substitute, to no avail.

After shaking hands with their opponents, the Perry players, as is tradition, raced across the field to thank the home crowd and salute the students. Molina was given three basket tosses into the air by his fellow Bluejays, with the senior then stepping forward — after some urging by his teammates — to take a bow as the Jays and Perry students cheered loudly.

Friday’s match will go down as a 5-1 win for Perry. The record books will also record that the hosts were 7-0 victors in the JV contest. What they will not reveal was who the real winners were Friday — Manuel Molina, his coaches and teammates, and those lucky enough to have been there witness to the moment.

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Perry senior Manuel Molina (18) acknowledges a cheering student section after Friday's win over Indianola. Molina's teammates had given him three basket tosses to celebrate his dedication to the team and to the first varsity appearance of his career.
Perry senior Manuel Molina (18) acknowledges a cheering student section after Friday’s win over Indianola. Molina’s teammates had given him three basket tosses to celebrate his dedication to the team and to the first varsity appearance of his career.

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