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West Ranch soccer gets needed spark

Posted: February 18, 2014 10:06 p.m.
Updated: February 18, 2014 10:06 p.m.

West Ranch goal keeper Nic Wolthers, left, grabs the ball near the goal as he collides with Bishop Montgomery's Anthony Vicelja near the end of the first half at West Ranch High School on Tuesday.

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Oddly enough, it was a goal against that finally sparked West Ranch boys soccer on Tuesday.

After allowing the game-tying score late in a CIF-Southern Section Division IV wild-card game, the West Ranch Wildcats rallied for Zack Sage’s go-ahead goal and an eventual 2-1 win over Bishop Montgomery at West Ranch High School.

The Wildcats got the job done and advanced to the first round of the playoffs, where it will face Hawthorne High on Thursday.

“It wasn’t our best game,” said West Ranch head coach Fausto Arana. “We didn’t pass as well as we normally pass. We didn’t move the ball as well as we normally do, but the boys play with heart and that was enough.”

Sage headed in the game-winning goal off Brendan Moskal’s corner kick with six minutes remaining in the game. The goal came following West Ranch’s burst of energy that followed Bishop Montgomery’s equalizing goal from Hunter Howard just six minutes earlier.

“We kept up our pressure,” Sage said. “Once they scored that’s actually when we started playing better.”

For most of the game, the Bishop Montgomery Knights (8-11-1) were using their height and aggressive play to keep West Ranch’s attack at bay.

“I thought it was a pretty even game. I just thought we made some mistakes,” said Bishop Montgomery head coach Clive Hulbert, whose team finished third out of the Del Rey League.

Though the Wildcats (8-9-3) had the majority of the promising scoring opportunities late in the game, the Knights had them early.

The teams ended up with seven shots apiece.

Up until the end of the game, it was only Moskal’s mid-air, re-direct goal in the 23rd minute that put West Ranch ahead 1-0 early.
“We needed a little more,” Moskal said. “We didn’t play to our potential. We should have put this team away.”

At the start of the second half, the game went into a stalemate as neither team could take much of an upper hand.

Though Howard beat West Ranch goalkeeper Nic Wolthers one-on-one to tie the score, it was otherwise an impressive day of Wolthers and the West Ranch backline led by Sage and Rhys Weatley.

It ended up being Sage who got himself into perfect position to head in Moskal’s corner kick.

“Those (plays) from Moskal have become kind of our signature,” Arana said. “We score a lot of goals from that.”

And because of that, West Ranch gets to live to play another day.


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