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Foothill League boys soccer: West Ranch starts strong

High-energy Wildcats put away Saugus in Tuesday’s second half

Posted: January 12, 2010 9:58 p.m.
Updated: January 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Last season, a slow start to the Foothill League schedule forced West Ranch to play catch-up.

Thanks to a fast start in the second half of Tuesday's league opener, this year is a different story.

West Ranch's Evan Stevens had a goal and an assist and the defense held tight as the Wildcats beat Saugus 2-0 at West Ranch High School.

After a back-and-forth first half, West Ranch (5-6, 1-0) capitalized on scoring chances at the beginning and end of the second half.

"Every game in league, you can't waver for a second," said West Ranch head coach Mo Burgess. "I knew they were going to come out hot and we had to."

Just minutes after halftime, Stevens played a ball into the box and West Ranch forward Matt Duben knocked it into the net to give his team the lead.

Stevens closed the game with a goal on a counterattack with a few minutes left.

Unlike Burgess, Groller wasn't pleased with his team's effort Tuesday.

"The first 14 games we've come out with passion and intensity, and today we didn't do that," he said. "That's taking nothing away from West Ranch. I thought their defense was strong."

In fact, the Wildcats' defense made a huge difference in the first half.

Led by central defender Aldo Moreno, West Ranch turned back most of Saugus' scoring chances.

"Aldo has had a lot of pressure on him," Burgess said. "He had a very good game. It was a very clean game for him.

The impressive performance by the West Ranch defense included an extended sequence in its own penalty box toward the end of the first half.

Saugus' Chris Allen rolled a ball into the box and a couple of different Centurions got a foot on it, but West Ranch defenders got in the way each time.

"For our team, defense has to set the tone," Moreno said. "Our offense is good enough to get going if we give them time."

The best scoring chances for Saugus (9-3-3, 0-1) came midway through the second half.

On the first, Allen made a dummy run on a corner kick and the pass rolled by him to the feet of Amir Ranjbar-Shiraz, who nailed the cross bar with his shot.

Moments later, Saugus' Manny Padron bent a low free kick around the West Ranch wall that was saved by diving goalkeeper Terrance Barroso.

Groller said his team did a better job of switching the point of attack in the second half, but it's still a concern moving forward.

"We needed to spread it out wide," he said. "We put too many through-balls down the center. It's something we've got to work on."

West Ranch, meanwhile, starts the league season with a leg up.

"It's huge to come out and get these three points," Burgess said, referring to the points awarded for a victory in soccer. "Playing from the front is better than playing catch-up. It's also confidence for us to come out with a shutout."


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