By Joe Naiman
Although Ramona High School’s boys soccer team was eliminated by Carlsbad in the Coronado Islander Tournament semifinals Dec. 3, the Bulldogs won their home opener Dec. 6 against West Hills and prevailed over defending CIF Division V champion Pacific Ridge on the Firebirds’ field Dec. 7.
Ramona reached the Coronado Islander Tournament semifinals by sweeping pool play opposition, which gave the Bulldogs the semifinal match against eventual tournament champion Carlsbad.
“Carlsbad’s a very, very strong team,” said coach Michael Jordan. “We outplayed them in the second half for sure; we had a lot of opportunities but just couldn’t get it done.”
The Lancers scored the game’s only goal in the first half and ended the week with a 7-0-0 season record. The loss was Ramona’s first of the season.
“Losing one at the beginning of the year gives us a little bit of humility and gives us a little bit of drive and motivation, so hopefully we can use that,” Jordan said.
The game against West Hills was scoreless in the first half. Jordan, who successfully experimented with a 3-4-1-2 formation in a tournament pool play match, utilized that in the second half against the Wolfpack.
“Andy Garcia in the middle just makes things happen,” Jordan said.
That formation places sophomore Colin Uekert in the midfield. “He just wins everything in the air,” Jordan said.
Alex Nastre and Alex Medina are the strikers in that formation. Ramona’s first goal was scored when midfielder Morgan Schmidt took a direct kick and passed to Nastre, who placed the ball over the goalkeeper’s head.
The second goal was scored by Medina, the recipient of a pass from midfielder Abraham Cabrera after Cabrera beat defenders going down the field.
“His post passes are amazing,” Jordan said of Cabrera.
Jordan had his reserves on the field when the final goal of the 3-0 game was scored with about 15 minutes remaining. Brandon Duarte dribbled the ball before finding Dillon Alwan with a pass. Alwan responded with his first varsity goal.
“Just drilled it into the back of the net,” Jordan said.
Ramona goalie Jesse Bonilla only had to make two saves in the shutout.
“Pretty quiet night. The defense played spectacularly,” Jordan said.
The defense under the 3-4-1-2 formation consisted of Ali Aparicio, David Soto, and Jose Valencia.
Pacific Ridge’s only loss of the 2011-12 season was in the state tournament after winning the Division V section championship, and the Firebirds’ only 2010-11 defeat was in the Division V section finals.
“We took on a team that only had two losses in the last two years,” Jordan said.
The Firebirds scored the game’s first goal on a corner kick, but Medina’s goal off a corner kick just before halftime created a 1-1 score at the mid-game whistle.
“That gave us the momentum going into the second half,” Jordan said.
Second-half goals by Nastre and Medina provided the Bulldogs with a 3-1 victory.
The Bulldogs will thus take a 5-1 record into the Dec. 13 weather-contingent game at home against Mar Vista, which is also Ramona Soccer League Night and will recognize the youth feeder programs. The Bulldogs will start the Grossmont Tournament with two games on Saturday, Dec. 15, in the absence of meteorological obstacles.