None of the current Ramona High School boys soccer players were on the Bulldog varsity during the 2006-07 season when the Bulldogs earned their most recent trip to the CIF playoffs prior to this year. The Feb. 20 playoff selection and seeding meeting gave Ramona’s players their first post-season opportunity by seeding the Bulldogs ninth among Division II teams.
“We felt very happy to be in the playoffs,” said Ramona coach Michael Jordan.
The top eight seeds earned first-round home matches while the ninth through 16th seeds went on the road, which in Ramona’s case meant a trip to South San Diego for the Feb. 23 match at Southwest High School.
“I thought that strength of schedule would have merited us a home game, but we just missed out,” Jordan said.
Five of Ramona’s seven Valley League losses were to Orange Glen, Mount Carmel, and Westview, who were the top three Division II seeds. (Ramona defeated Mount Carmel in the two teams’ league opener.) The Bulldogs’ 5-7 league record placed them fifth among the league’s seven teams.
Ramona finished the regular season with an 11-10-1 overall record.
“That was nice to finish with a winning record regular season,” Jordan said.
Ramona’s final home game of the regular season took place Feb. 17, when the Bulldogs lost 4-0 to Westview.
“It was a lot closer than the score indicated,” Jordan said.
The score was 1-0 at halftime, and the Wolverines didn’t score their second goal until about 15 minutes into the second half.
The Bulldogs closed out the regular season Feb. 19 at San Marcos and recorded their sixth shutout of the season. The game, which eventually became a 2-0 Ramona win, was scoreless at halftime.
“We match up pretty close with one another,” Jordan said of the Bulldogs and Knights.
Jordan felt that the Knights had more opportunities to score prior to early in the second half.
“About 15 minutes into the second half the momentum changed,” Jordan said.
Jordan began the game with a formation using three forwards, four midfielders, and three defenders. In an effort to stop the momentum Jordan went to a formation with two forwards and four defenders; Ali Aparicio moved to the stopper position to join Carlos Bustos, Nestor Dinero, and Walker Poortinga on the defense.
Aparicio is one of two freshmen on Ramona’s varsity; the other is Andy Garcia. With about 15 minutes left in the game a hand ball penalty about 25 yards from the San Marcos goal gave Ramona a direct kick. Garcia took the kick and placed the ball in the net, giving Ramona not only the first goal of the game but also the Bulldogs’ first goal from a direct kick all season.
“I doubt that there was a goalkeeper in the county who could have saved that ball,” Jordan said of Garcia’s shot.
With about two minutes remaining in the game Garcia beat multiple San Marcos defenders and took a shot which hit the inside post before going into the net.
Senior goalie Jake Venolia recorded the shutout in his final regular-season game. Venolia only needed to make two saves.
“They had quite a few shots but not too many on frame,” Jordan said.