By Joe Naiman
During a three-day period in which the Bulldog boys soccer team split a pair of 1-0 games, coach Michael Jordan learned that he could depend on Jesse Bonilla, who is playing his fourth season as the starting goalkeeper, regardless of what other lineup was on the field.
Bonilla allowed a penalty kick goal in Ramona’s 1-0 home loss Dec. 11 against Grossmont while making seven saves, including a second penalty kick. He made nine saves in the Bulldogs’ Dec. 13 home game against El Camino, which ended with the 1-0 score in Ramona’s favor.
During safe Ramona leads Jordan has inserted backup goalkeeper Tony Alba in the nets, but otherwise Bonilla has been the sole goalkeeper for the Bulldogs. The same cannot be said for the other 10 positions.
“We haven’t started the same 11 in the first nine matches,” Jordan said.
Some of the starters against Grossmont hadn’t previously begun the game on the field.
“We had a number of guys injured or hurt,” said Jordan.
The Dec. 11 players learned the consequences of committing a direct kick foul in the penalty box. Jordan noted that the Grossmont offensive success might have been more potent had it not been for Bonilla’s play.
“Jesse played great; he was the man of the match,” Jordan said.
Dec. 11 was also Ramona Soccer League night, which honored the youth players. Dec. 13 was Fan Night, which included a drawing for giveaways highlighted by a jersey signed by former Ramona star Andy Garcia.
In the game against El Camino, Ramona’s only goal was scored on a penalty kick.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” Jordan said. “Their goalie was phenomenal too, but Jesse played like the best goalkeeper in San Diego County.”
Jordan used a sweeper-stopper defensive formation against the Wildcats to compensate for an ill defender. David Soto and Ian Rodd were the outside backs, Brandon Chavez was the sweeper, and Cesar Sanchez played stopper.
“They had a high-powered offense,” Jordan said of El Camino. “Our defense played stellar, but they created opportunities and Jesse just turned away all of them.”
Jordan noted that Bonilla stopped breakaway plays, deflections, and shots from inside the 6-yard box.
“It was amazing to watch,” he said.
Jordan also cited the ability of various groups of defenders to contribute to a shutout.
“We’re definitely deeper on the bench,” he said. “Proud of those guys to jump in and contribute at that level.”
The Bulldogs will host a game against Hoover High School on Dec. 20.