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Prep soccer: West Ranch picks it up

Defense helps ’Cats survive slow start against Ventura

Posted: December 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch forward Hailey Reynolds (12) fires a shot past Ventura’s Paige Wagner on Thursday at West Ranch High. Reynolds scored and the Wildcats won 3-0.

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The West Ranch girls soccer team didn’t think it had played its best soccer of the season Thursday when it hosted Ventura at West Ranch High.

Nonetheless, the Wildcats outplayed the Cougars in nearly every facet of the game and scored three times to defeat Ventura 3-0.

“As good as 3-0 looks,” said West Ranch head coach Jared White,” it could have been worse if we were more disciplined with our focus.”

West Ranch goalkeeper Katherine Koury shut out the Cougars (2-5-1), who struggled to maintain possession throughout the first half and found few scoring opportunities after halftime despite picking up the intensity.

“It’s a big benefit (having a strong defense),” Koury said. “It’s a lot easier.”

And that help was evident time and again, as West Ranch defenders continually thwarted Ventura’s opportunities.

“I think (West Ranch is) really strong and physical,” said Ventura head coach Katie Maxwell. “They have some very good ability in the box to finish. I think they were a good side.”

Offensively, the Wildcats (5-0-1) struggled at times to string passes together, but a corner kick with 22 minutes left in the first half led to the game’s opening goal.

The Wildcats’ Taylor Ayers sent the corner flying into the box, where a missed clearance by Ventura put the ball at the feet of forward Hailey Reynolds, who scored to give West Ranch the 1-0 lead.

In the second half, West Ranch sealed the game when midfielder Valerie Mercado took a through-ball down the right side of the field and took a shot from just outside the penalty box. The ball tipped off the keeper’s hands and into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead with 19 minutes remaining in the game.

Kendall Moskal added a third goal for the Wildcats when she scored on a header off a throw-in from Tiffany Jackson with 10 minutes remaining.

Despite the shutout victory, though, White expected more from his squad.

“It took us too long to get into our rhythm and our offense,” he said. “It took us 60-65 minutes to string together two to three passes.”

And that was a sentiment echoed by the team.

“I think we can’t pay attention to the results of other teams, and (we have to) go out like every team is the toughest team we’re going to play,” Mercado said.

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