The celebration said it all.
With a pack of teammates behind him, West Ranch sophomore Anthony Lambrinidis lept into the air and slid down on the bendable flag post situated in one of the right corners of the school’s turf field.
“I had to break out the FIFA (video game) celebration,” Lambrinidis said.
There was good cause for the jubilation.
Lambrinidis’ goal with less than three minutes to play against Hoover of Glendale led the Wildcats to a 1-0 victory Thursday afternoon.
Connor Desser served a cross from the left flank coming off a corner kick and Lambrinidis was waiting to the right of the goal, beating the keeper with a header toward the top-left corner.
“We had a lot of trouble connecting in the first half and were pretty disorganized,” said West Ranch coach Louis Mogrovejo. “ … It was a nice ball of a set piece. Anthony is really active on those kinds of plays, so we like to get him in there in those types of situations.”
West Ranch (3-0-1) had been peppering the goal leading up to the lone score of the day. A West Ranch throw-in deflected off a Hoover defender and nearly went in for an own goal. But it sailed over the top of the net to set up the corner kick leading to the game-winning score.
“It was like a miracle, to be honest,” said senior forward Santiago Torres of the goal. “We kept going at it all day but weren’t getting many good looks.”
Torres provided the Wildcats with their best opportunity up until Lambrinidis’ goal. With just over 22 minutes left in the game, Torres sent a liner toward the goal from five yards out. The shot deflected off the thigh of a Hoover defender and flew out of bounds.
“I thought I had a one-on-one with the goalie but that defender came out of nowhere,” Torres said.
West Ranch played on the Hoover (1-3-1) side of midfield for nearly the entirety of the first half, allowing just one shot on goal and three overall in the contest. Shots on goal were also slim pickings for the Wildcats, though, collecting four.
“This is what the preseason is for,” Mogrovejo said. “We’ll take a look at the film and try to implement some changes to our attack.”
The Wildcats continue their preleague slate Tuesday at Thousand Oaks.