Golden Valley boys soccer rises past West Ranch

Dan Watson/The Signal

Golden Valley boys soccer player Jesse Valerio went through almost every type of emotion in the Grizzlies’ 2-1 win over West Ranch at Golden Valley High School on Tuesday.

Eleven minutes into the game, Valerio was whistled and called for a foul after West Ranch forward Josh Swanson went down inside the Grizzlies’ penalty box, awarding West Ranch a penalty kick.

The initial Elijah Beaubien penalty shot was blocked by Golden Valley (8-5-2 overall, 2-2-1 in Foothill League) goalkeeper Julian Villafan. Exhibiting cat-like reflexes off the rebound, Villafan blocked Swansons shot to keep the game deadlocked at 0-0.

“I had faith in my goalkeeper, Julian Villafan,” Valerio said. “I was scared because I committed the foul and I probably wouldn’t have been able to focus if they scored. But thank God that he blocked it because that gave me the strength to keep my head up and keep fighting.”

Six minutes later, in the 17th minute of play, Valerio found himself on the opposite end of the spectrum as he got behind the West Ranch defense, collected a pass from Cesar Perez and rolled in the game’s first goal.

“I was hungry for a goal because the only way I could make up for the mistake was to score,” Valerio said. “I gave Cesar (Perez) the ball and as always we have that chemistry because we have been playing for a while. This time it worked out. He gave me a ball in and I scored.” 

The lead was short-lived, however. In the 24th minute of play, the Wildcats (3-7-2, 0-4-1) tied things at 1-1 as West Ranch midfielder Ryan Verbeck sprinted down the left flank and from about 25 yards out took a shot that was destined for the back of the net.

Focused and determined, the Grizzlies’ Ronny Morales, Juan Mendez and Ulisses Arruel led Golden Valley down the field on back-to-back possessions, but the attack was snuffed out. 

The third would be much different.

As Morales won the ball just above midfield he dribbled it out wide to the left flank and cut towards the middle of the field, making a pass to Mendez. Mendez looked up and spotted Arruel uncovered in the around the 18-yard box who tapped the ball in and Golden Valley retook the lead once and for all.

“They are very special and they all have creativity and vision, that’s what’s fun to watch,” said Golden Valley head coach Ken Claborn. “Good defenders will stop good attackers, but when the attackers are skilled, creative and relentless, they end up scoring. That’s what you saw from them today.” 

Wildcats’ forwards Richard Tons and Swanson and did their best to get free to collect a pass from midfielders Owen Strunk and Shea Weiner, but with Grizzlies’ defender and two-way player Brian Romo heading up the defense, they found it difficult to get shots off.

“He has height and he’s got a great shot,” said West Ranch head coach Mike Kane about Tons. “If he could just turn around and take a shot, you could really see his potential.”

Golden Valley plays at Hart at 3:15 on Thursday, while West Ranch is at Canyon at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Canyon 0, Valencia 0

Canyon’s goalkeeper Kevin Newlands stopped nine shots on goal for the Cowboys (8-8, 2-2) in the draw. Valencia is 

Hart 2, Saugus 1

Hart improves to 13-2-1 and 3-1-1 this season and Saugus is 7-5-2 and 1-2-2.

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