The Hart boys soccer team hosted Ventura High School in an attempt to keep their perfect start to the season alive at Hart on Thursday.
Winning three straight contests to begin the season, the Indians did something uncharacteristic in the win against Ventura: They scored a first-half goal to secure their fourth win in as many games.
“Yeah, we haven’t scored in the first half,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “We created a lot of chances in this game. I think we have to focus a little more on finishing plays, but we played well. We have been consistent to begin the season.”
Indians forward Joseph Ochoa scored on a penalty kick in the 31st minute and forward Lawrence Luna netted an insurance goal in the 59th minute in Hart’s 2-0 win.
Consistency and persistence were key in the Hart (4-0 overall) win as the team had numerous missed opportunities to begin the match, but yet they did not give in or succumb.
In the fourth minute of play, the Indians almost took the lead as Joseph Ochoa sent a free-kick into the penalty box in the direction of Nicholas Woll. Woll timed his jump and got a clean head on the ball, but his shot clanked the crossbar, negating the goal.
Halfway through the half, Luna drove downfield on the left flank and into the Cougars’ defensive third. Begging the goalie to come off his line, Luna’s wish came true. Luna crossed the ball towards Woll’s direction, with an empty goal, but once again, the shot went wide.
Two minutes later in the 24th minute of play, it was Luna who missed another opportunity to score the game’s first goal. Collecting a through ball, he showcased his speed by beating the entire Ventura backline to a ball, but this time, Ventura’s goalkeeper, Ivan Rodriguez, got the best of him and got the block.
Setting up the 1-0 lead on Ochoa’s penalty kick, Ventura’s Brian Rea attempted to shut down the Indians’ attack by stealing the ball from forward Nathaniel Bello. In doing so, Rea fouled Bello inside the penalty box and the Indians were awarded a penalty shot.
“It was pretty hard because we want to win and we have to put the goals in the goal, but we struggled and we kept fighting,” Ochoa said. “After the first goal the team’s motivation spiked. Everyone started to attack harder and play better to take down the team.”
Lucas Enriquez was Hart’s most consistent player throughout the game, turning away scoring chances for the visitors to dictate the game between the posts.
Enriquez finished the game stopping all 10 shots on goal.
“Lucas right now, he’s on fire. He’s unstoppable,” Luna said of his Enriquez. “Everyone is putting in the same amount of effort and if we maintain it, I think we can go far.”
Enriquez came up with big save after big save, but none proved more important than the three-save sequence early in the second half to keep the shutout alive.
“The initial save, it was a cross, and I felt that I should have held it, so as soon as I bobbled it I knew I had to cover my goal,” Enriquez said. “I threw myself at the player’s leg and met him and did it again.”
Feeding off Enriquez’s energy, the Indians marched down the field on the following counterattack with Luna’s shot ending up in the back of Ventura’s net to take a 2-0 lead with just over 20 minutes remaining in the game.
Hart’s backline –– Edilson Ramirez, Daniel Montanez, Johnny Rios and Cameron Castañeda –– did a good job of holding their ground and stopping Ventura’s speedy forwards throughout the match and more importantly the second half to secure the team’s third shutout-win.
“We still have to work on some tactical things with the four backs,” Jovel said. “Overall, they did a great job. They have been able to deal with the pressure so we have done very well.”
Hart plays Moorpark at 8 a.m. in the Hart Tournament hosted on Thursday.