Ramona High School’s boys soccer team reached the semifinals of the Islander Tournament before a 2-1 loss to Canyon Crest.
A pair of Dec. 5 wins gave the Bulldogs the wild card position in the tournament, sending them to the semifinals.
“We knew the only way for us to advance out of that pool play was to be the wild card winner,” said Ramona coach Michael Jordan.
The Bulldogs opened pool play—and the 2009-10 season—with a 1-0 loss Dec. 2 to Coronado.
“We knew we had to do well in the other two games to earn the wild card,” Jordan said. “We did.”
The semifinals consisted of the three pool winners and the team with the next-best performance. Ramona’s first Dec. 5 game was against Southwest High School of El Centro.
“That was a good team. They had their opportunities,” Jordan said of Southwest. “We tried to limit their opportunities.”
The game’s only goal was scored by Ramona’s Chris Huber in the first half. The 1-0 win gave Ramona goalkeeper Jake Venolia his first shutout of the season.
Ramona’s defense also includes outside defenders Nestor Dinero and Marco Sanchez, sweeper Walker Poortinga and stopper Blake Charbonneau.
Ramona’s other Dec. 5 game was a 3-1 triumph over Santa Fe Christian.
“We really controlled all aspects of the game,” Jordan said.
Tommy Perfect was Ramona’s goaltender against the Eagles, allowing only a late goal.
“He did everything that we asked him to do, and defense stepped up really well,” Jordan said.
Huber scored twice against Santa Fe Christian and had the assist on Ramona’s other goal, which was put into the net by Michael Quilo.
Ramona advanced to the semifinals based on goal differential.
“That’s a good testament to our defense,” Jordan said.
Charbonneau was ill against Canyon Crest. The semifinal match was originally scheduled for Dec. 7, but rain that day forced the game to be played Dec. 8.
David Downing gave Ramona a 1-0 lead over the Ravens four minutes into the game, and the score remained 1-0 for the remainder of the first half.
“I knew that one goal wasn’t going to be enough,” Jordan said.
The Ravens scored twice in the second half to advance to the finals, where they defeated University City by a 5-3 score.
“Last year I was elated to make it to the semifinals,” Jordan said. “This year I was disappointed that we didn’t make it past the semifinals.”
In 2008 Carlsbad eliminated Ramona in the semifinals and won the tournament with a win over Coronado in the championship game.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the second half,” Jordan said. “We need to do a better job marking up on corner kicks and direct kicks.”
Ramona would end up playing Canyon Crest in back-to-back games, as the Bulldogs and Ravens opened the Grossmont Tournament against each other December 12. The Ravens scored two first-half goals and took a 2-0 victory.
Ramona’s other Dec. 12 game in the Grossmont Tournament was a 1-1 tie against El Camino. Huber scored in the first half, and the Wildcats tied the game with seven minutes remaining.
“We thought that we deserved a win, but deserving it and getting it are two different things,” Jordan said.
The Bulldogs will continue the Grossmont Tournament Saturday morning against Santana, and on Saturday evening the annual varsity-alumni game will be played at Ramona High School.