Taft boys’ soccer (7-3) blanked the hosting Castaic Coyotes (2-5) in their non-league matchup on Wednesday.
Castaic came close several times to netting a score, but was held scoreless for the fifth game this season.
The Toreadors were led by senior striker Ryan Quinn, who finished with two goals. The striker now has 13 on the year, eclipsing his total from last season.
Quinn got going instantly and drilled his first shot in less than two minutes of action.
Taft scored again at the 18-minute mark as David Tankou fired in a goal to make it 2-0. Coyotes goalkeeper Marcus Roberts made a diving save on the initial strike but the deflection landed right in Tankou’s lap.
Castaic never played in panic mode and controlled most of the first-half possession. The Coyotes kept gradually working the ball into Toreador territory but mistimed passes and miscommunications would cost the team. The chances were still there and improved throughout the first half.
“I liked that they never put their guard down,” said Castaic head coach Fernando Mahaluf. “They kept on pushing up, attacking and pressing. They have their minds in the right place. We just need to practice more and make sure that our movements become almost memorized and mechanical so we can play the same way all the time.”
The Toreadors would capitalize on their few chances in the first half and ride the lead to the finish.
Taft came out of the halftime break much more aggressively and controlled the tempo of the half. Tankou’s speed at midfield would keep the ball on the Toreador attack as the team consistently threatened to score again.
One of Castaic’s best shots of the day came off the boot of sophomore Alexis Silva. The forward worked his way through multiple defenders and fired a shot on target but Taft keeper Anthony Limon made the save.
The visiting team finally broke through for its third goal at the 74th minute. Quinn got his second breakaway play in less than a minute. Roberts managed to save the first one but the Toreador wouldn’t be denied on his redemption shot.
Quinn is a crafty striker with a ton of goals already this year. Coyotes center back Imudia Aimiuwu broke up dozens of entry passes for the Taft attack and kept his team in the game through great play on the backline. Aimiuwu was moved up to forward to end the game in hopes to get his team on the board.
Silva and fellow sophomore Ronnie Castruita made some big plays for Castaic. The pair are two of many young and talented Coyotes, who could become forces in the Foothill League.
Castaic is going through the growing pains expected with any program in its first year of varsity. The team is also adjusting to Mahaluf’s style of play in the head coach’s first year. The coach believes his team is adjusting well and improving drastically every day.
“I have a different style of philosophy and coaching than the previous coach,” said Mahaluf. “They were afraid of making mistakes, where now I encourage mistakes, so they can learn from their mistakes.”
The Coyotes will get the rest of the year off and enjoy the holiday break. Castaic will again fight for its first Foothill League win on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 5 p.m. at Canyon.