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Foothill League boys soccer: Defensive strike

Cowboys hold off West Ranch in win

Posted: February 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s Brett Karson, far right, heads the ball away from Canyon’s goal on Friday at West Ranch High. Canyon won 2-1.

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For the second straight game, Canyon asserted itself early and took a first-half lead.

The difference this time around, Canyon’s defense turned in an excellent performance to hang on to the lead, and the Cowboys walked off the field 1-0 winners over West Ranch on Friday at West Ranch High School in the battle of the last two Foothill League champions.

It was once again A.J. Rochow who scored Canyon’s only goal of the game, which was the case on Tuesday when the team allowed two unanswered goals in a 2-1 loss to Valencia.

“Soccer is about setting the tone,” Rochow said. “If you let the other team set the tone, you’ll be on your heels the whole way.”

In this case, it was West Ranch (9-4-3, 4-2-2) on its heels after Rochow tapped the ball into the left side of the goal from the right side of the 6-yard box with eight minutes to play in the first half.

It was an evenly-matched affair the rest of the way.

Both teams had corner kicks, close calls and promising shots-on-goal, but Canyon (8-6-2, 5-2-1) and its backline continued to hold strong led by a strong performance from defender Alex Prince.

“A quality team should be able to hold a 1-0 lead if strategized correctly,” said Canyon head coach Khris Savage.

The Cowboys took over West Ranch’s place at second in league with the win, which was made possible by disciplined defensive play.

At different points, the Wildcats tried connecting short passes together to look for an open shot and at other times, they tried to send kicks into the attacking zone through the air.

Though West Ranch managed three corners, three shots-on-goal and plenty of headers that ended up just above the top crossbar, it wasn’t enough to equalize.

“(Soccer) can be the greatest game in the world and you can love it,” said West Ranch head coach Fredd McGinn. “And other days, it can be cruel to you.”

The game didn’t come without some physical play either.

Canyon’s Ramirez Edvin and West Ranch’s Wade McMillon were both issued red cards after getting into a shoving match in the final minutes.

Earlier, Cowboys midfielder Zach Jens and Wildcats goalkeeper Alex Manzo were both given yellow cards for an altercation.

Despite the fouls, Savage said his team kept its cool for the most part, unlike in Tuesday’s loss.

“When you play frustrated, you don’t play soccer properly,” Savage said.

Canyon came into the game just three points behind first-place Hart in the standings, and the Cowboys have kept themselves in contention for a league title with a matchup against Hart coming in the league finale on Thursday.

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