Armand Pigeon doesn’t really take free kicks for the Edison High boys’ soccer team. That’s not his role.
But with the team’s designated free-kick taker out sick on Thursday night, the junior said he felt the need to line up for one right before the first half expired.
Coach Charlie Breneman is glad Pigeon did.
Pigeon nailed a shot from just outside penalty arc, finding the upper-right corner of the net. The goal stood up for the Chargers, who opened the Adidas West Coast Showcase with a 1-0 win at Downey Warren.
Goalkeeper Bennett Flory made four saves, and Edison (3-1-3) held an opponent scoreless for the fourth time this season. But scoring has also been an issue for the Chargers, who are averaging one goal per match.
Not helping matters has been the absence of five key players because of club commitments. Breneman said Kai Peterson, Chase Bullock, Wyatt Burris and Dylan Lybarger joined Edison on Thursday, while Jake Whitcomb was out sick.
Breneman added that two of his starters — Bryan Corona and Sander Booij — missed the match due to illness.
“We don’t have someone who is going to go score [double-digit] goals,” Breneman said. “We’re solid defensively. But we kind of put ourselves on the back foot by turning the ball over too much in the midfield.
“Effort was really good [against Warren]. We just needed to make some better decisions at midfield.”
Breneman called Thursday’s contest an ugly one.
After a handball outside of the box by Javier Vargas set up the free-kick chance in the waning seconds of the first half, Warren controlled most of the possession in the second half. The Bears (2-3-1) just couldn’t score, failing to do so for the second straight match.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m not worried at all,” Warren coach Miguel Peña Diaz said of the offense. “In [the 2012-13 season], it happened, the same thing, we couldn’t score, we couldn’t score if our life depended on it. At some point, we clicked, then it started happening, [and we went on to win a CIF Southern Section Division 2 title].”
Warren and Edison resume tournament play on Friday. The Bears take on Pico Rivera El Rancho at 5 p.m., and two hours later, the Chargers face Hamilton of Chandler, Ariz.
Hamilton began the tournament with a 4-0 shutout of El Rancho. The winner between Edison and Hamilton will be in the driver seat to claim Group A in the Coast Division.
“We were watching them before [we played Warren], and they looked like a good team,” Pigeon said of the Huskies. “But I feel like we’re coming in with a lot of momentum.”
The 16-team tournament in Downey also features three top-10 teams in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, No. 3 Servite, No. 7 Paramount and No. 9 Long Beach Millikan. Servite is ranked No. 4 in the state by TopDrawerSoccer.com, while Millikan is No. 19 and Paramount is No. 24. Two other top-25 teams in the state competing in the tournament are No. 10 Fresno Clovis North and No. 23 El Toro.
The competition will be good for Edison before it begins play in the new Sunset Conference, which has two leagues. Breneman already isn’t a fan, with Edison, Corona del Mar, Los Alamitos and Newport Harbor in the Surf League, and Fountain Valley, Laguna Beach, Marina, Huntington Beach in the Wave League.
“I don’t like that it’s only four teams [in each league],” said Breneman, whose team won the Sunset League title the past two seasons. “You’re going to get six games in league, and then of those four teams, you get two CIF berths.