By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys soccer team started the 2012-13 season by sweeping pool play in the Coronado Islander Tournament.
The Bulldogs opened the tournament and their season with a 2-0 win Nov. 28 over Hilltop at the Coronado Keys field, took a 3-0 victory Nov. 29 against Hoover on the Cardinals’ pitch, and earned a 5-2 triumph Dec. 1 over San Ysidro at Coronado High School.
“Great start,” said coach Michael Jordan.
Hilltop has reached the CIF Division II finals in each of the past two years and lost six games during that two-year period. The Lancers ended the 2011-12 season ranked 41st in the nation.
“It was a huge win for us,” Jordan said.
In addition to Ramona’s two goals, the Bulldogs had two shots that went off the crossbar.
“It could have easily been 4 to 0,” Jordan said. “We took opportunities.”
Morgan Schmidt ran up the field on a counterattack in the first half before passing to Alex Nastre, who was running up the right sideline. Nastre’s shot from the right side went into the net for the game’s first score. In the second half Nastre was running up the sideline and passed the ball to Schmidt, who placed it into the net.
Ramona goalie Jesse Bonilla made seven saves against the Lancers. Bonilla was assisted by defenders Ali Aparicio, Oscar Leon, David Maruna, David Soto, and Jose Valencia.
“It was definitely our game,” Jordan said.
Jordan didn’t assume an easy win at Hoover. “We knew Hoover was going to be a team below us, but they surprised me. They had a lot of speed and some pretty good ball skill,” he said.
Andy Garcia scored Ramona’s first-half goal against the Cardinals while Alex Medina and Nastre each scored in the second 40 minutes. Abraham Cabrera had two assists while Nastre added an assist.
“Once again our defense just shut them down,” Jordan said.
That included a formation shift for the second half. Jordan tested a 3-4-1-2 formation with Aparicio, Soto, and Valencia as defenders, a midfield of Cabrera, Leon, Schmidt, and Colin Uekert, and Garcia playing behind strikers Medina and Nastre.
“It was just beautiful soccer in the second half, just nice validation of something I wanted to try,” Jordan said.
Hoover only had one shot on goal. Bonilla played 60 minutes before Jordan let backup goalie Tony Alba play the final 20 minutes.
“It was definitely an all-around team effort,” Jordan said.
Ramona had a 4-0 halftime lead against San Ysidro. “The guys just came out like gangbusters,” Jordan said.
The first two goals of the season scored against the Bulldogs came after Jordan had his reserves on the field.
“Those guys need playing time and the starters need a little bit of rest,” Jordan said.
After Ramona’s lead was narrowed to 4-2, Jordan put his starters back on the field and the Bulldogs scored the game’s final goal. Nastre scored twice against the Cougars with Garcia, Medina, and Schmidt scoring once apiece. Schmidt had two assists against San Ysidro with Aparicio, Cabrera, and Medina each contributing an assist.
“We’re definitely in tune with one another,” Jordan said.
The Coronado Islander Tournament has a large school division and a small school division. Jordan agreed to play in the large school division even though Ramona was the smallest school in that division.
“To sweep pool play and move into the semifinals is a nice accomplishment,” Jordan said.
Ramona’s first home game of the season takes place Dec. 6 against West Hills.