As 20-mph winds whipped across West Ranch’s turf field Monday afternoon, Wildcats coach Louis Mogrovejo had one constant bit of advice.
“Relax,” he yelled throughout the team’s season opener against Sierra Canyon
West Ranch was able to keep to the script, holding off an early surge from Sierra Canyon on its way to a 4-0 win.
“It’s tough with high school because you can’t really train much in the offseason, so the season really sneaks up on you,” Mogrovejo said. “We were just hoping to feel things out and get everyone used to playing within our scheme and formation.”
Sierra Canyon controlled the pace for the better part of the game’s first 15 minutes, but managed just one shot on goal.
Freddy Montes put the Wildcats on the board off a free kick a little over 20 yards out, with over 20 minute to play in the first half. Montes buried his shot well out of the reach of Sierra Canyon’s goalkeeper, Talha Rafique, in the top left corner.
“We’re still getting used to how everyone plays together and things like that,” Montes said. “I’m excited to see how everything comes together.”
While Monday constituted West Ranch’s season opener, it also defeated Westlake in a scrimmage last Tuesday.
Connor Desser staked West Ranch to a 3-0 halftime lead with a pair of goals. The first came from nearly point-blank range directly in front of the goal, with under 10 minutes to go in the helf.
Desser added the second after a deep cross sailed over Rafique’s head in added time. Desser stuck with the cross after a leaping Rafique tipped it, and sent it in from left-to-right with an open net.
“We run a 4-2-3-1, but we play with several other different formations,” Mogrovejo said. “That’ll give other teams more to worry about but that also gives us more to adjust to earlier in the season.”
Liam Hope had five saves as the Wildcats notched the shutout.
After the game, players quickly grabbed for their jackets and sweatpants, with Montes shivering throughout his interview. The strong winds mixed with a cool afternoon (58 degrees at kickoff) didn’t bother him, though.
“I actually like it better to play when it’s colder,” Montes said. “You don’t really notice it out there.”
The Wildcats continue their pre-league slate Wednesday night at Simi Valley.