By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys soccer team improved its overall season record to 16-1-2 and its Valley League record to 4-0 with wins Jan. 22 at home against Valley Center and Jan. 24 at Del Norte.
The Bulldogs defeated Valley Center by a 3-2 score and Del Norte by a 3-0 margin.
Valley Center High School opened in 1998. Like Ramona, it is the only school in its town, and the communities have similar demographics.
“Valley Center is always kind of a rival school for us, always has been,” said coach Michael Jordan. “We always know there’s going to be the extra intensity in that game.”
The Jan. 22 match was no exception. Ramona opened the scoring midway in the first half.
“It was the most beautiful goal I’ve seen all year,” Jordan said.
Morgan Schmidt brought the ball down the right flank before crossing the ball along the 18-yard-line to Andy Garcia on the left side.
“Andy was just being patient and just kind of trailing the play,” Jordan said.
Garcia had to send the ball across his body to make a left-footed volley which went into the net.
“I’ll remember that goal for a long, long time,” Jordan said. “It was gorgeous.”
The Jaguars tied the game when Ramona goalie Jesse Bonilla blocked a midfielder’s shot only to send the ball to a Valley Center forward who scored the equalizer. The score remained 1-1 through the halftime whistle.
The Bulldogs regained the lead after Ricky Rodriguez took the ball down the right side before playing the ball to the other side of the field. A Valley Center defender was successful in gaining possession of the ball, but not as successful in trying to clear it. Alex Medina jumped up, and the clear attempt went off Medina’s body and into the goal.
“It was just Alex being Alex,” Jordan said. “He tries so hard and doesn’t back down.”
Ramona’s final goal was scored when Garcia passed to Abraham Cabrera, who had been running down the left side before receiving Garcia’s pass. Cabrera converted the opportunity into a 3-1 Ramona lead. The Jaguars scored late in the second half but could not tie the game.
Del Norte entered the Jan. 24 game in third place in the league standings.
“We knew that they were going to have skill,” Jordan said.
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 halftime lead. Medina and Garcia each scored while assisting on each other’s goals. Medina’s goal was his 17th of the season.
The second-half goal was derived from Schmidt playing the ball to Alex Nastre, who then placed the ball across the box to Cabrera. Cabrera then scored the goal.
“It was something we had just worked on in practice the previous day, so it was nice they were able to take that and put it into a game situation,” Jordan said.
The shutout was the 10th of the season for Bonilla.
“Double-digit shutouts, that’s something special for him and his defense,” Jordan said.
The defense of sweeper Kiko Valencia, outside defenders Aedan Maruna, and David Soto, and stopper Colin Uekert only required Bonilla to make four saves.
“The defense played well-organized and communicated well,” Jordan said.
If weather permits, the Bulldogs will open the second round of league play Thursday, Jan. 31, at Mission Vista.