By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys soccer team concluded a stretch of five consecutive Valley League games on the road with wins Feb. 5 against Oceanside and Feb. 7 at Valley Center.
The Valley Center game was Ramona’s fourth consecutive contest decided by a one-goal margin, including three wins by the Bulldogs. Ramona defeated Oceanside in a 4-3 match and Valley Center by a 3-2 score.
Ramona’s win over Oceanside saw the Bulldogs nearly squander a three-goal lead.
“It was a strange, strange match,” said coach Michael Jordan.
The Bulldogs had a 3-0 lead 15 minutes into the game.
“We were just rolling,” Jordan said.
The first goal was scored when Alex Medina took possession of the ball at midfield, took it towards the Pirates’ net, and sent the shot past Oceanside’s goalkeeper. Medina later ran downfield before passing to Morgan Schmidt, who scored Ramona’s second goal. The third Bulldog goal occurred when Abraham Cabrera passed the ball to Ricky Rodriguez, who was in front of the net at the time and was able to convert the shot into a goal.
Oceanside narrowed its deficit to 3-2 by halftime.
“We played some unorganized, undisciplined defense,” Jordan said.
Ramona took a 4-2 lead when Alejandro Rodriguez’s shot was deflected and Medina was present for the rebound.
“Just kind of a scrappy goal,” Jordan said.
Oceanside once again reduced Ramona’s advantage to a single goal.
“They scored one late to make it a game, but we were able to hold out,” Jordan said.
The Bulldogs also led Valley Center throughout the game after scoring the initial goal. The first half’s only score was on a free kick from the side taken by Andy Garcia.
“Andy just chipped the ball past the wall (of defenders),” Jordan said. “Medina was there to collect the free ball.”
Ramona had a 2-0 lead after Schmidt passed the ball to Garcia, whose right-footed shot went past the goalkeeper.
The Jaguars narrowed the lead to 2-1.
“We just couldn’t clear it,” Jordan said.
Ricky Rodriguez’s throw-in was headed into the net by Garcia for a 3-1 lead, but in the last 15 minutes the referees awarded three penalty kicks to Valley Center. The first was high. The second was awarded after the Jaguars apparently scored on a chaotic situation; one referee called the playback due to the penalty kick situation and the other referee cited the advantage rule and gave the Jaguars the goal.
The final penalty kick against Ramona goalie Jesse Bonilla was taken just before time expired.
“Jesse made an incredible save to preserve the win and our chances at a league championship,” Jordan said.
Bonilla stretched to his right to keep the ball out of the net.
“Jesse was able to knock it down,” Jordan said.
Valley Center recovered the rebound, but Bonilla also made the save on that shot.
“One-goal games are scary,” said Jordan.
The win gave Ramona a 19-2-2 overall record along with a 7-1 Valley League statistic. Ramona has a chance to avenge its only league loss Thursday, Feb. 14, when the Bulldogs host Orange Glen. The game has both league championship implications and CIF Division II playoff seed implications.
“If we beat Orange Glen on Thursday, I expect that we would be the No. 1 seed,” Jordan said.