Berkeley sophomore Kamani Hill posted two goals and had six assists despite playing only the second half on Tuesday, leading the ’Jackets to a 13-0 win over Encinal.
Hill leads the ACCAL with 25 goals in just nine games, and more than doubled his assist total for the season against the helpless Jets. Both Hill and senior midfielder Chris Davis started the game on the bench for Berkeley due to missed practice time.
“We have a rule that if you miss practice or you’re late, you don’t get to start,” Berkeley coach Janu Juarez said. “Kamani missed practice altogether, so he didn’t play until the second half.”
But what a half it was. With the ’Jackets already comfortably ahead, 4-0, at halftime, Hill came on with specific instructions from his coach.
“I told him to spread the offense around,” Juarez said.
Hill did exactly that, needing just seven minutes to rack up four assists, just one short of his season total of five coming into the game. His first came when he missed a one-on-one opportunity, with Davis putting away the rebound. Hill then set up Roberto Meneses at the top of the box, and his fellow sophomore hit a shot that eluded the Encinal goalkeeper.
Hill continued his assist streak with precise through balls to Liam Reilly and Chris Altieri-Dove, both of whom finished their chances calmly. He followed that with his first goal of the game, getting free in a crowd in front of the goal to score off of a Davis corner kick.
The ’Jackets finally put together a goal without Hill’s input soon after, with defender Sam Geller hitting a beautiful ball about 40 yards upfield and all the way across to Reilly, who put it away for his second goal of the game to make the score 10-0. But Hill came back to score the next goal, as Micah Burger forced a turnover deep in Encinal territory. The ball bounced right to Hill, who dribbled around the goalie and slotted the ball home with his left foot.
The Encinal goalkeeper apparently tired of having wave after wave of Berkeley attackers come at him, so he decided to turn the tables, charging far from his area to challenge Hill on the left flank. But Hill simply lofted the ball to the goalmouth, where Burger held off a defender and volleyed the ball into the net. All that remained was a Davis goal from yet another Hill assist to set the final score, with Hill dropping back to sweeper with 10 minutes left in the game.
Berkeley forward David Ngov had two goals in the first half before sitting out the second half.
Tuesday’s win puts the ’Jackets at 8-1 in league play, with their lone loss a 3-2 shocker at Alameda last week. While Juarez termed the loss “a robbery,” with a late Berkeley goal disallowed by the officials and two questionable Alameda penalty kicks, the ’Jackets still hold their own fate in their hands. If they can sweep through the five remaining regular season games, they will win the league title and earn an automatic bid to the North Coast Section playoffs.