By Joe Naiman
A 2-1 win at Rancho Bernardo on Feb. 2 gave Ramona High School’s boys soccer team their first road win in the Palomar League.
The Bulldogs had a Palomar League road record of 0-6-1 after the league realignment last year placed Ramona in the league with Mount Carmel, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Torrey Pines and Westview.
The win last week gave Ramona a 2011-12 league record of 2-4 along with an overall season mark of 9-9-2. It also gave Ramona a 1-0 record for the second half of the league season, putting the Bulldogs on pace to meet the team’s goal of a 2-2-1 record during the second round of league matches.
“We’re on our way to being able to achieve that,” said Coach Michael Jordan.
Ramona’s last road loss prior to defeating the Broncos was a 2-0 defeat Jan. 31 at Mount Carmel.
“We had quite a few injuries,” Jordan said.
An ankle kept captain and defender Carlos Bustos from playing, and midfielder Abraham Cabrera missed his second straight game due to a knee injury.
Although the Bulldog offense did not convert opportunities into goals, Jordan was pleased with his team’s ability to convert practice situations into game execution.
“We knew they had a long throw-in,” Jordan said of the Sundevils.
That was a focus during practice, and the Bulldogs didn’t allow a goal off a throw-in.
“All the things we worked on in practice they did great in the game,” Jordan said.
Both Mount Carmel goals were scored in the second half. The Sundevils put a positive number on the scoreboard about 10 minutes into the half and did not put a second ball into the net until the game had about 15 minutes remaining, by which time Jordan had made a formation change and sacrificed defense to have three forwards attempting to score the equalizer.
“We had some opportunities. We just couldn’t get it done,” Jordan said. “Just really couldn’t get offensively going. Most of the offense that we had was from our defense pushing up.”
The Bulldogs and Sundevils will see each other again Feb. 14, which will be Senior Night for Ramona.
“We look forward to taking care of them at home,” Jordan said.
Rancho Bernardo’s game last Tuesday was a victory over Poway, which gave the Titans their first league loss of the season.
“Their momentum was really high,” Jordan said of the Broncos.
Ramona went 0-9-1 during league play in 2010-11 but opened the 2011-12 season with a 2-1 home win over Rancho Bernardo. In that Jan. 17 game the Broncos scored first before the Bulldogs tied the game in the first half and scored the winning goal in the second half. That same scoring pattern occurred Feb. 2; the Broncos took a 1-0 lead about 15 minutes into the game.
The Feb. 2 game was the first of the season for Ramona’s Morgan Schmidt, whose back injury kept him from appearing in any of the Bulldogs’ previous 17 games.
“He was phenomenal,” said Jordan. “Right from the get-go he was creating opportunities on offense.”
Schmidt took a shot about 25 minutes into the game, although his foot ended up in the bottom of a defender’s cleat. Schmidt had cleat marks on his body and was removed from the game. The foul gave Ramona a direct kick, which Andy Garcia took from about 30 yards out.
“The ball was just struck really well over the top of the wall,” Jordan said.
After the ball went over the wall of defenders, the Rancho Bernardo goalie was able to put a hand on it but not maintain control, and the shot went into the net for the equalizer.
Ramona’s injuries also included goalie Jesse Bonilla after a Bronco attacker slid into him.
“Jesse Bonilla was hurt pretty good,” Jordan said. “He couldn’t even punt with his right foot.”
Bonilla began punting with his left foot.
“It was pretty amazing,” Jordan said.
Bonilla made four saves during the game, including three after his injury.
“Jesse just stepped up and played great,” Jordan said.
The Rancho Bernardo foul that created Ramona’s winning goal did not involve contact with a Ramona player but rather illegal contact with the ball. Bryan Kelly sent the ball across the field, and a Bronco defender touched the ball in the penalty box. Garcia took the penalty kick to score about 15 minutes into the second half.
This year Rancho Bernardo was moved from Division I to Division II for playoff purposes while Ramona was moved from Division III to Division II.
“Sweeping them in league will go a long way towards us making the playoffs,” Jordan said.
The Bulldogs host Poway in Thursday’s match.