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Foothill League boys soccer: West Ranch gets the jump

Wildcats hold down surging Hart team in league opener

Posted: January 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s Chris Tumasone (2) celebrates his second goal with Connor Ashlock on Tuesday at Hart High.

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West Ranch boys soccer head coach Fred McGinn has spent a lot of time preaching to his team to never underestimate anyone.

Perhaps the first-year coach should apply that message to his own players.

In a battle of the top two Foothill League finishers a year ago, the defending champion Wildcats knocked off Hart 2-0 in Tuesday’s league opener at Hart High School.

It was a fairly convincing victory over a Hart team that came into the day with the league’s most impressive nonleague resume, holding a 9-1 record.

“Pre(league) is one thing, league is another,” McGinn said. “And our plan was to put pressure on them and make them play the long ball.”

Senior defender Chris Tumasone scored both goals for West Ranch (6-2-1, 1-0-0), which beat Hart at its own game by using pressure defense and aggressive, ball-control offensive play.

The Indians (9-2-0, 0-1-0) were unable to generate the kind of offensive onslaught they’ve typically been able to this season under the direction of Adonay Jovel, another first-year head coach.

“It could have been pregame jitters, it could be that we weren’t focused,” said Hart defender Gabe Robinson. “I don’t know.”

After strong defensive play by both teams in the opening 20 minutes of the game, the Wildcats had their first chance when Hart’s Ryan Dolan was called for elbowing West Ranch’s Connor Ashlock inside the goal box.

The foul gave West Ranch a penalty kick, which Tumasone converted after faking to the left and smashing the ball into the right side to put his team up 1-0 with 17:40 to go in the half.

As West Ranch’s defensive pressure picked up and Hart’s offense became increasingly frustrated, the game started to shift in the favor of the defending league champs.

“We knew they were going to come out just as hard as we were,” Tumasone said. “It was just intensity.”

Shortly after his penalty kick, Tumasone finished off the day’s scoring when a ball deflected off Hart goalkeeper Kevin Ponek, and into position for a left-footed goal in the box.

That made it 2-0 with just under 10 minutes to go in the half

After the break, Hart tried to turn the tables with long throw-ins and forcing the ball deep into West Ranch territory.

Each time though, the Wildcats defense and goalkeeper Alex Manzo came up with the stops needed.

“You can’t win games when you’re not focused and you’re not doing the things you’re supposed to do,” Jovel said.

Not only did West Ranch survive Hart’s barrage in the second half, it countered with its aggressiveness, outshooting Hart 13-9 overall and 7-5 after halftime.

“Our mentality even when we’re up 2-0 is we’re not going to sit back and play defense,” McGinn said.

It seems the Wildcats aren’t going to relinquish their reign at the top just yet.

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