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Foothill soccer: Wildcats play their cards right

‘Underdog’ West Ranch proves it still belongs near top

Posted: January 9, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 9, 2013 1:55 a.m.

From left, West Ranch's Eduardo Trujillo and Wade McMillon collide with Hart's Jonathan Rose on Tuesday at Hart High.

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Somehow, the two-time defending Foothill League champion West Ranch boys soccer team found a way to play the underdog card.

It’ll be hard to call the Wildcats underdogs anymore after they put together a convincing 2-0 victory over Hart on Tuesday in their league opener at Hart High School.

The Indians (8-3-1 overall, 0-1-0 Foothill) came into the day with the most impressive preleague resume of any other team in league. But for the second year in a row on the same field against the same team by the same score in its first league game, Hart came up short against an aggressive, hard-charging West Ranch.

“There’s no pressure being an underdog,” said West Ranch head coach Fred McGinn. “When you’ve got a lot of pressure as the red-hot favorite, it’s tough. We just had to come out and play.”

The Wildcats (9-3-3, 1-0-0) also had a successful preleague campaign, though they came in quietly compared to Hart, which was victorious in its own Hart Soccer Showcase tournament last week.

On Tuesday, it was clear West Ranch was the instigator of the action from the start.

The Wildcats took advantage of bigger bodies in the midfield and eventually broke through in the 36th minute when Jake Hirst sent a ball toward goal from roughly 50 yards out.

It took an awkward hop in front of Hart goalkeeper Matt Ortiz and bounced over his head, into the goal to make it a 1-0 lead.

“More than anything we didn’t go and play aggressive in the beginning,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “And we started playing aggressively, but it was too late.”

West Ranch forward Wade McMillon made it a 2-0 score in the 34th minute when he beat a Hart defender one-on-one down the left sideline, dribbled the ball toward the middle of the field and tapped it in past an out-of-position Ortiz.

In the second half, the Wildcats put a clinic of defense on display, shutting off every possible scoring avenue for the Indians.

West Ranch goalkeeper Alex Manzo turned in a strong five-save performance and he was aided by the backline of Rhys Wheatley and Zack Sage in the middle and Reilly Souisa and James Lemus on the outside.

“We knew if we were going to be up, we were going to do everything we had to to keep it 2-0,” Sage said.

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