When Taylor Kozlov first joined West Ranch boys soccer as a sophomore, he was a striker. But coach Louis Mogrovejo needed a left back, so Kozlov made the switch.
Now, in his senior year of Foothill League play, Kozlov has scored two goals in three games for the Wildcats.
His latest goal boosted West Ranch to a 1-0 win over Valencia on Tuesday at West Ranch.
“He said coach, ‘I used to play striker’, and I said, ‘Well I don’t see it,’” Mogrovejo said. “And now he scored two goals I’m like, ‘I’m starting to see it now.’”
Kozlov’s goal didn’t come until the 64th minute. Valencia’s keeper was displaced, leaving a wide-open net ripe for the taking. He corralled the ball at around 30 yards out, then executed a shot towards the right post.
“I think this season I’m more confident in going up more and just going up and back and being an all-around player,” Kozlov said.
The Cats (7-1-2 overall, 3-0 in Foothill League) maintained pressure and controlled their attacking third for nearly the entirety of a scoreless first half and well into the second.
The Vikings’ signature defense, however, held strong, winning one-on-one battles and swooping in to relieve pressure from their keeper at key moments.
“They play very defensively,” said center mid Freddy Montes. “They just stick most of their players on defense and they just like to kick the ball up. They don’t really play on the ground very much at all.”
Valencia (2-6-4, 0-2-1), the reigning Foothill League champions, have now gone five games without a win. With a youthful roster that features only two seniors, coach Tony Scalercio has confidence in the progress his players have made thus far.
“We don’t lose,” Scalercio said. “We only learn. So that’s what I tell the boys is that we don’t lose. Every single game, we come out and we learn and we apply the things that we work on in training for the next game.”
Conversely, most West Ranch players are experiencing the first 3-0 start in their varsity careers.
“This season, the boys have stepped up tremendously,” Mogrovejo said. “…We haven’t even hit our peak yet and that’s something I’m happy to see.”
Saugus 2, Golden Valley 1
Aidan Sutherland and Dylan Sullivan each scored for the Centurions. Frank Ornelas was credited with an assist on Sullivan’s goal.
Saugus is now 7-4-4 overall and 1-1-1 in league play and next plays at Canyon on Thursday.
Golden Valley (3-7-2, 0-3) scored on a penalty kick and will take on Valencia on Thursday.
Hart 1, Canyon 0
Lawrence Luna scored the Indians’ only goal with an assist from Dillon Vega. Jacob Tomaswzeski registered a shutout.
Hart is out to a 3-0 start in Foothill League play with an overall record of 9-6-1. The team travels to West Ranch on Thursday for a 3:15 p.m. game.
Canyon is 3-11-2 overall and 1-2 in league.