Valencia Vikings boys soccer won its penalty-ridden league match with the hosting West Ranch Wildcats on Thursday.
The Vikings won the game, 3-1, after netting three unanswered goals in a 10-minute span to defeat West Ranch.
Valencia (5-5-4, 4-3-2) wasn’t in the 0-1 hole for long. The Wildcats (3-6-3, 2-4-3) struck first with a penalty kick goal from senior Andrew Montes in the 13th minute.
The Wildcats were playing much more aggressively but as soon as the Vikings went down, they swung back hard.
Vikings senior Azael Jovel was fed a bomb from midfield and drilled the equalizer with two West Ranch defenders all over him.
“I feel like everyone worked as hard as we could,” Jovel said. “We worked as a team and not just as one player. I think you saw that team effort today.”
Shortly after, Valencia junior Jordan Cardenas broke free on the right wing but was fouled just inside the box. The junior was awarded a penalty kick and drilled the 2-1 goal in the 26th minute.
Valencia kept its foot on the pedal and worked the Cats’ backline. Five minutes later, Vikings forward Daniel Corcione was awarded a PK after another rough West Ranch foul.
Cats head coach Mike Kane was pleased with his team’s performance in the second half but summed up the fouls in the first half with one word: “Stupid.”
“We gave up two stupid penalties and that’s the game,” Kane said. “If we don’t give up the two stupid penalties, it’s a 1-1 game, so I’m upset. I was upset with the penalties.”
Corcione netted the third score in 10 minutes for Valencia, as the team overwhelmed the Wildcats with its aggressive play.
“The intensity of Valencia,” Kane said. “We ran into a buzzsaw today the way they played. They communicated, connected passes and their defensive mids are great players. They shut us down and I think that’s the difference going against stupid penalties. If we don’t give up those stupid penalties, maybe it’s 1-1, and we tie them two times this year.”
West Ranch entered the second half playing with a fire lit under them. The team fought for 40 minutes to score but just couldn’t put the ball into the net.
Valencia was in a nosedive and had gone over a month without a win before picking up a pair of league wins this week.
“I think we were just smarter with the ball today,” Vikings head coach Jose Villafan said. “We connected on passes and found the spots that we needed to find and the players that we needed to find in the right matchups. It was a really good game and the deal is with West Ranch, you got 3-1 and that’s the score but it’s like it’s not realistic. They’ve come back time after time. It seemed like one of those matches that’s 3-1 but it almost feels like 1-0.”
Villafan was quick to shout out Andres Alonzo, a recent call-up from junior varsity, who played well in the Vikings midfield.
“Specifically, [the game plan] was trying to control the midfield,” Villafan said. “So we pulled up one of our JV players, Andres Alonzo. He has very good distribution. Very, very smart and technical on the ball. And I think he was a difference maker first in the midfield.”
West Ranch had also found some late-season momentum as the squad entered Thursday’s match on a two-game win streak.
Valencia was excited to come out and take down the Wildcats after drawing 2-2 in the previous meeting.
Both teams have three games left to solidify a playoff spot. West Ranch currently sits in a tie for fifth while the Vikings are tied in second place.
The Cats will be off for a week before heading to Hart on Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
Valencia can boost its win streak to three games on Tuesday when the team returns home to host Canyon at 5 p.m.
“We have three more games left,” Villafan said. “So, if we finish as strong as we can and we play the way we did right now, I think we could easily end up in second place in the league. It’ll be a good building block for next season.”