Down two goals with about 20 minutes left in the second half, West Ranch boys soccer made one last push in an attempt to capture its first Foothill League win against Hart at Hart on Friday.
On a throw-in, West Ranch pushed numbers up to try and make one last push to finish the game out strong.
Ben Rice put the ball into the middle of the 18-yard box where Wildcats Ryan Verbeck and Josh Swanson swarmed the ball. It took a bounce off of Swanson, Verbeck took a touch and without hesitation kicked the ball that hit the crossbar and bounced past the goal line for the Wildcats’ first goal of the game.
Unfortunately, it’s all the momentum the Wildcats could muster as the Indians were able to come out with a 2-1 win to sit in second place in the Foothill League standings behind Valencia.
“We need to build more chemistry together,” Verbeck said. “Passing and moving in space is something that we need to work on. We are a new team so we aren’t quite gelled together just yet, but once we keep playing and keep practicing hard, the chemistry will come.”
Hart (9-6-3 overall, 2-0-2 in Foothill League) began the game in a high press as usual, with Cameron Castañeda, Adrian Morales and Nathaniel Bello disrupting the West Ranch backline.
The action, for the most part, was in the middle of the field with both teams trying to read each other out in the first 20 minutes of the game.
With nine minutes left in the first half, Hart’s Timothy Kim lined up to take a free kick from about 45 yards out. Making good contact with the ball, Kim sent a high ball hurling towards the West Ranch goal.
Misjudging the ball, Wildcats goalkeeper Ethan Bolita came off his line and allowed the ball to go up and over his outstretched hands for the game’s first goal.
“Honestly, it wasn’t a shot,” Kim said, laughing. “But it went in and that’s what matters.”
Changing their tactics at halftime, West Ranch (2-5-2, 0-3-1) was determined to get the goal back and sent Swanson, Jacob Gendein and Owen Strunck forward in the hopes of getting behind the Indians’ backline.
Just as West Ranch tried to build an attack Hart’s Gerardo Robledo netted what would be the go-ahead goal for the Indians chipping a ball over a diving Bolita’s outstretched arms as the ball rolled into the side netting.
“We showed up the last 20 minutes,” said West Ranch head coach Louis Mogrovejo. “Before that point, it was all Hart. This wasn’t the West Ranch that I know.”
Hart will travel to Saugus and West Ranch will host Golden Valley on Tuesday.
“We are probably going to be in second after today’s game,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “We just have to stay focused and take care of the games that we have ahead of us.”