West Ranch boys soccer hosted Ventura in a hard-nosed and physical non-league game at West Ranch on Tuesday.
The temperature read 64 degrees, but play on the field heated things up as West Ranch was able to complete a 2-1 come-from-behind victory against Ventura.
“We still have a lot to work on,” said West Ranch head coach Louis Mogrovejo. “We are trying out a new formation and trying out a couple players at different positions. So overall with all that’s going on, the boys came together as a team and found a way to win.
“I’ve always told the boys, ‘You have to find a way to win no matter what.’ At the end of the day, they played their hearts out and they earned that win 100 percent.”
Beginning the game a little flat-footed, West Ranch (2-1-1) played off the counter-attack as forward Daniel Levite intercepted a pass at midfield and sent a through ball to Jacob Gendein who was galloping down the middle of the pitch.
Forcing the goalie to come off his line, Gendein took a shot but was denied by the Ventura goalkeeper.
Then, with just under 13 minutes to play in the half, the Wildcats lined up for a throw-in. Jostling for position along the sideline with a Cougars defender, Levite let out a yell and immediately raised his hand calling to be subbed out.
Levite exited the game with a right arm injury.
Playing without their one of their most offensive-minded players, the Wildcats drew a 0-0 stalemate after the first half.
“When you have players in key positions that do things for you in certain games that hurts you because now we have to shift things around,” Mogrovejo said. “Definitely not having Levite in the game it did hurt us, but we were able to recover and put players in different positions to help us out and find the ‘W.’”
Filling the offensive skills that Levite encompasses every time he is out on the field, Gendein and Josh Swanson pushed a little higher and attacked more aggressively to begin the second half.
Pushing numbers up, Ventura (0-2-1) found their opportunity 18 minutes into the half as Horace Johnson stole a ball just above midfield, dribbled the ball to the left edge of the 18-yard box and took a shot that flew past the Wildcats goalkeeper giving the Cougars the 1-0 lead.
Looking like it was going to end in a Wildcats loss with under six minutes to go in the game, West Ranch answered with a goal of their own.
Josh Swanson dribbled a ball down the right side of the pitch into Ventura’s 18-yard box, finding Gendein, who laid waiting for the pass, to bring the Wildcats even at 1-1.
“When we got the ball out wide, I saw the defenders open up perfectly just for Josh to put the ball in the gap,” Gendein said. “It was all in the cross. I just had to guide the ball towards the goal and that’s exactly what I did.”
Giving the Wildcats life with two minutes left in the game, Mogrovejo urged his players to push up and complete the comeback victory.
Listening to his coach, Swanson pushed up and found himself one-on-one with a Ventura defender 18-yards from the goal. Using his body and jukes, Swanson confused the Cougars defender forcing him to foul Swanson inside the penalty-box and forcing penalty shot.
Carlos Gutierez lined up for the penalty, nestling it past the Ventura goalkeeper to complete the 2-1 come from behind West Ranch victory.
“Swanson playing on the wing was pretty big,” Mogrovejo said. “I’ve been wanting him to step up in that position and today he did what I wanted and stepped up and got us those two goals. They scored but he did all the work on the wing.”
West Ranch opens up league-play against Canyon at Canyon Friday, Dec. 14.