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Last tune-up for G.V. soccer

Posted: January 8, 2014 9:43 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2014 9:43 p.m.

Golden Valley's Romulo Hurtado, left, fights for possession of the ball against Santa Paula on Wednesday at Golden Valley.

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Golden Valley boys soccer coach Juan Paolo believes his Grizzlies can make noise in the Foothill League this year, and Wednesday’s showing against Santa Paula High at Golden Valley High School in the team’s preseason finale will do little to change that belief.

After falling 6-0 to the same Cardinals squad a year ago, the Grizzlies came out on top 2-1 this time around to move back to .500 just before their Foothill League opener against Canyon next Tuesday.

“Sweet revenge,” said Paolo following Wednesday’s contest. “We were debating putting these guys on the schedule again after last year. But we wanted them back, and especially this late in the preseason to have a result like this is nice.”

Leading the way for Golden Valley was sophomore standout Francisco Perez, who opened up the scoring with a 30-yard rocket off of a free kick during the 22nd minute.

Due to multiple injuries sustained by Grizzlies last week and during Wednesday’s match, Perez was in charge of keeping things under control in the midfield.

Given the frenetic pace exhibited by both teams, such a task was hard.

Both teams did a lot of running and neither squad was sharp in converting the multiple opportunities each created.

“We honestly didn’t play very well today,” said Santa Paula head coach Brian Blevins. “The bottom line is we didn’t execute, played disorganized. And credit goes to Golden Valley — they were just the better team today.”

While the Grizzlies’ injuries hindered the chemistry of the team on Wednesday, junior varsity call-up Christian Gonzalez was unaffected.

In simple terms, the forward was relentless. Countless times, seemingly routine Santa Paula (3-3-2) passes became 50/50 battles for possession.

“That’s just my style. I want to play fast and keep going as hard as I can,” said Gonzalez, a junior. “I’m going to play that way if it’s my first varsity game or it’s my last.”

Golden Valley took a commanding two-goal lead in the 62nd minute when Grizzlies defender Michael Richardson found substitute Yo-el Meshesha.

Meshesha tapped the pass in for the score.

Yet, the comfortable cushion disappeared quickly when Santa Paula’s Javier Aguilar put it past Grizzlies keeper Gabriel Coronado on a penalty kick just two minutes later.

Despite a furious attack over the course of the final 10 minutes — which included an offside call that negated a potential Santa Paula scoring opportunity with multiple Cardinals in the penalty area — Golden Valley hung on for the victory.

So far, Golden Valley has been the very definition of an up-and-down team. The Grizzlies are 6-6-2 with 25 goals scored and 22 goals against. Yet, Paolo believes the emergence of Gonzalez and the confidence from a better preseason than last year will do wonders.

“It’s nice to get another guy in there to help with scoring, because that has been something we have struggled with. But overall I’m satisfied with our team and excited for next week,” Paolo said.


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