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That old cliché

West Ranch’s Colin Amsler and Aldo Moreno are keys to the Wildcats boys soccer team’s defense

Posted: January 9, 2009 10:11 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2009 4:30 a.m.

West Ranch central defenders Colin Amsler, left, and Aldo Moreno (also below) are poised to prevent opponents from scoring this season. If they succeed, the Wildcats could, too.

In soccer, defense is a thankless position. There's no goal-scoring glitz like there is for strikers. Defenders aren't the fulcrum of the entire team like the midfield. If you make a mistake, it's amplified. But if you do your job, it's often underappreciated.

Therefore, defense also offers a relative anonymity.

You don't have to tell that to West Ranch central defenders Colin Amsler and Aldo Moreno.
That's how they - and their team - like it.

"It's always fun being the underdog," Amsler says. "No one really believes that West Ranch can do anything, and we're here to shock some people."

The way West Ranch intends to do it is with defense.

Under first-year head coach Mo Burgess, the Wildcats are learning to pressure the ball and defend at all levels.

But as Burgess will tell you, it all starts with Amsler and Moreno.

"They bring an anchor to our entire team," Burgess says. "To have two good center backs, that's a beautiful thing for me. It all stems from there. They come out every single day at practice and give it everything."

They give it everything during games as well, and bring a physical element to West Ranch's back line.

"My responsibility is to clear the ball out once it gets deep in the middle, be physical, control the middle and let nothing through," Moreno says. "Colin's definitely the quarterback of the defense."

With two full seasons of varsity experience and almost 12 years of playing soccer under his belt, it's not hard to see why.

Amsler's parents signed him up when he was 6 years old, and he immediately loved the sport.

Amsler made varsity as a sophomore, and now, the senior co-captain has developed into a full-fledged coach on the field.

Although hampered by a recent ankle injury, Amsler will be ready for Foothill League play. Not that he's any less vocal on the sidelines, anyway.

"I order a bunch of people around," he says. "I'm always talking, always speaking up. If I don't like something, I let people know. I'm not afraid to do that."

Amsler has bought into Burgess' full-field defensive philosophy as well.

"When everyone defends, it creates pressure and people get nervous and they make mistakes," he says.

"We just swoop in, take the ball and we're right back on the attack."

West Ranch has allowed 10 goals in 11 games this season.

Amsler and Moreno are so good at taking the ball, in fact, that Burgess feels they're often the catalyst of West Ranch's offensive attack.

"They're both very good passers out of the back," he says. "Our offense can start from there."

Meanwhile, opposing offenses frequently stop when they run into Moreno.

The first-year varsity participant has already ascended to the pivotal position of central defender thanks to his speed, strength and ability in the air.

Moreno also plays aggressively, and the junior is perfectly comfortable being the last line of defense.

"I really like it, because I like playing out of the limelight," he says.

He may be out of the limelight on the soccer field, but soccer itself was in Moreno's blood from an early age.

"My dad's from Argentina," he says, "so I really didn't have a choice."

Like Amsler, Moreno has chosen to patrol the back line of the pitch, a position that may not be glamorous but should ultimately decide who wins a Foothill League rife with change.

West Ranch has been steadily improving the past couple seasons and the Wildcats are hoping for bigger things this year.

"They think we're still the same old West Ranch," Moreno says, "and we're going to sneak up on them and really take control in the first half."


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