Modesto High soccer coach Matt Mendes knows the Modesto Metro Conference is highly competitive.
"There's a lot of parity," Mendes said. "Every game is going to be a battle," he said.
It was a battle Friday, as Thomas Vanderveen scored midway through the first half to give the Panthers a 1-0 victory at Downey.
The win keeps the Panthers (5-0 MMC) in first place after the first of three rounds of conference play, with Downey (5-3-1, 3-1-1) in second.
Modesto capitalized on its best chance of the day when Joseph Camarda dribbled down the left side and passed to Vanderveen, sprinting up the middle. Vanderveen took a dribble and fired a left-footed shot into the lower-right corner of the goal from about 20 yards out. The ball skidded past the outstretched arms of diving Diego Vera (seven saves).
The Knights were the aggressors in the second half, and had several chances. Vanderveen made a nice clear of a shot, then with 15 minutes left, Panther goalkeeper Rene Mejia made a diving save.
"We had tons of chances, just couldn't put any of them away," Downey coach Adrian Romero said. "That hurt us in our tie with Johansen, too."