Canyon Cowboys boys’ soccer and the West Ranch Wildcats stormed into battle right at the opening whistle in search of their first Foothill League win.
Both teams scored all of their goals in the first 15 minutes of the game, displaying how much fight each squad came out with.
Canyon prevailed at home, 2-1, with both goals being netted in two minutes and by the same combination of Cowboys, as senior Jacob Bertran scored twice with each assist coming from junior Gabriel Roque.
Wildcats forward Aidan Marsh scored the team’s only goal to start the game in the second minute of play. Canyon (1-0-1, 1-0-1) had just nearly scored off a corner kick but a lightning-fast counter led to Marsh being able to find the back of the net from the right wing.
Bertran tapped in his first score in the 14th minute, as he fired in the equalizer off a low corner kick from Roque.
Roque found his forward again on the other side of the field, this time on a free kick. Roque fired the ball in just left of the post where Bertran was met with little defense and buried the go-ahead score.
“I think when we are fluid moving off the ball, receiving it, releasing it and moving for each other, we can put together a nice attack,” said Cowboys coach Robert Benavidez. “Being fluid, we’re making the defense make decisions and we’re creating havoc.”
Both teams had numerous chances to score with corner kicks, shots on goal and some strong throw-ins from West Ranch defender Lucas Ramakers.
Idowu Oladipo and Logan Sanchez both fired in would-be equalizers for West Ranch (1-1-2, 0-1-1). Sanchez fired in a beautiful free kick from just inside the midfield line but it was saved by Cowboys keeper Kyle Mora. The Canyon keeper was also able to stop a short-range shot on target from Oladipo later in the match.
“We were leaving ourselves vulnerable and they were taking advantage of it,” Benavidez said. “They’re well coached, they were taking advantage of it and creating chances and then putting the ball in play. They had that threat with (Ramakers) that can throw it like a country mile. Hats off to them, they battled for 80 minutes and they could have easily come out of here with a tie or even a W.”
He may have been held scoreless but senior Marcus Toney was a factor for Canyon. Toney consistently found space on the left wing, where he was able to weave through multiple Wildcat defenders throughout the game.
Mora played well with several saves throughout a contest in which the Wildcats repeatedly worked the ball into Cowboy territory. The Canyon backline made Mora’s life a little easier throughout the night as the group was quick to clear out the majority of inside attacks.
Toney nearly put Canyon up 3-1, finding the ball just in front of the goal. The senior hit a strong ball on target, as West Ranch goalkeeper Brody Cannon needed to be saved twice. The sophomore keeper made the initial stop but the ball slowly rolled past him on the tip. It was inches away from the third Cowboy goal of the day but the keeper recovered.
The speedy Cowboys forward also showed his persistence and stole a throw-in during stoppage time. Toney found an opening but Cannon came up with another big save.
Canyon now picks up its first win of the season as West Ranch took its first loss. The two teams picked up draws last week to open league play, as the Cowboys tied with Saugus and the Cats drew with Castaic.
“It’s nice to come out of here with the W. I don’t think we played as well as we did against Saugus the other night,” Benavidez said. “I explained to the boys but sometimes you have to win these games where maybe we’re not moving the ball as well or moving off the ball as well, but you still find a way to get the W.”
The Cowboys have a mix of returners and newcomers. The newer players are adjusting well to the varsity speed but still have a whole season of Foothill League play ahead of them.
“The varsity speed of play is just that much quicker,” Benavidez said. “You have to be thinking quicker, moving, reading the field, seeing where pressures are coming from, and not panicking. I think they’re starting to adjust to that. But we’ll see, just one game at a time.”
West Ranch returns home to host Saugus on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. while Canyon will have its league bye.