Playing their second non-league game of the season, West Ranch boys soccer hosted Simi Valley on Tuesday.
Locked in a defensive battle to begin the game, the Wildcats hung with the Pioneers, who play in Division 1, with no score heading into halftime, but couldn’t overcome a second-half scoring flurry by Simi Valley and lost 4-1.
“It’s our first real game,” said West Ranch coach Louis Mogrovejo. “We played Hoover and we beat them 3-0 but they are not a competitive school like Simi Valley, who is a D-1 school. They are a strong school with good talent. The first half was 0-0, we were doing well. The second half is where we lost our discipline and Simi Valley found their opportunities and we didn’t.”
Changing their formation and gameplan by pressing higher in the second half, the Wildcats (1-1) tried to spark scoring opportunities by allowing Ryan Verbeck and Carlos Gutierez to create something through the middle and left sides of the pitch.
As a result, the Pioneers (1-0) were able to push more players up allowing for more centralized counter-attacks throughout the second half.
Seven minutes into the second half, Simi Valley lined up for a free kick on the left side of the pitch from about 25 yards out. Taking a few bounces inside the goalie’s box, multiple Wildcats had an opportunity to clear the ball but just couldn’t put a foot on it. The ball settled at the feet of a Pioneer who tapped it in for the game’s first goal.
Two minutes later, the Pioneers were able to double up the score on yet another free kick bringing the score to 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
Sticking with their gameplan, the Wildcats powered through, spending the majority of the second half in their opponent’s territory.
Wildcats Jacob Gendein and Daniel Levite tried their luck with two free kicks but were denied.
On a counter-attack, with under 18 minutes left in the game, Levite snuck behind the Pioneer defense, corralled a pass with his chest and volleyed the ball up and over the Simi Valley goalkeeper to get the Wildcats on the board.
“In the game of soccer, you never give up until that final whistle is blown,” Mogrovejo said. “The boys worked hard, they got to 2-1 and kept working on getting opportunities, but we didn’t put them away. It’s just part of the game. You never drop your head because there are always opportunities to win the game.”
The Pioneers scored two more times in the final 10 minutes of the game, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the young season.
“We are a very young team this year,” Mogrovejo said. “We graduated about 14 or 15 seniors last year so this year we only have four or five seniors on the roster, if that, so we are a young team, but we are competitive. Once everything starts clicking and the boys start to mesh better and we start to get the ball rolling, these boys can definitely be a threat.”
West Ranch gets another crack at getting their second win of the season against Calabasas at Calabasas at 6:15 p.m. on Friday.