WEST OVERCOMES SLOW START ONCE AGAIN
NATORI BREAKS THE ICE; FLORES ICES THE GAME WITH A BRACE
It's a bad habit but one that West has not been able to break so far this season. A slow start against Inglewood and they were facing a 0-1 deficit in the first seven minutes of the game. For the eighth time this season, they had conceded the first goal of the game. In those eight games, they have had the resolve to comeback in five of them, including getting three unanswered goals to take the win over the Sentinels.
Ten minutes after the Warriors went down a goal, they responded. Inglewood's passing attempt to clear the ball out to their winger was smartly anticipated by Ian Robinson who wasted no time getting the ball back into the attack with his one-touch pass to Steven Alvarenga. The left-footed winger gritted out a challenge for the ball and won his battle before serving the ball through a seam and across the top of the box where Issei Yamakawa was making an attacking run. Seeing Yuto Natori slipping in behind his run, the senior forward smartly dummied the ball, leaving it for his unmarked teammate. It may not have been the cleanest finish, but it knotted the game up at 1-1.
Six minutes into the second half, West countered off of a freekick that Turner Crump yanked out of the air and quickly distributed out to the flank. While Inglewood tried to scramble back on defense and get their defensive shape, a switched ball found Dylan Ray streaking down the left side. A slight hesitation and a quick burst put him by one of the centerbacks. While the other centerback came out to challenge him, the sophomore defender cut the ball back to Sebastian Flores who put it by the keeper to give the Warriors the lead.
West doubled their lead when Dylan made a run to the endline and a poor clear made its way to him. Another quick burst gave him the space to to get a cross off that eventually found its way to Sebastian alone on the second post. A solid volley and he had his second goal of the game that set the final score.
The comeback win was the 4th of the season for West and moved them to 3-0-0 in Pioneer League play. Next up is a formidable North team that will give the Warriors their toughest test of the season so far. Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 3:00 at North.
WEST COMEBACK FALLS SHORT
WARRIORS INCHES AWAY FROM ADVANCING TO THE QUARTERS
Day two of the South High JV Tournament was nearly as spectacular as the first day for the West High Warriors. Going down two against Animo in the first half was not the start they wanted, but the team was playing very well and a comeback was not out of the realm of possibilities. At halftime, the issue of giving the opponent too much space was addressed and West took control of the game.
With the ball moving quickly and precisely, an opportunity opened up with Dylan Ray finding space on the right flank. His attacking run into the box was met by a bad challenge by his opponent. It's a penalty kick that Garrett Eguchi buries with no hesitation. The lead is cut in half. Then with West continuing to put the pressure on the Aztec Eagles, Dylan found space down the flank again and crossed a ball that Anthony Erhahon headed back across the face of the goal. Nick Davila was ready and waiting to score the equalizer.
The score remained tied with West pressing for the winning goal. It nearly came with four minutes left in the game when Dylan attacked the space in front of him on a corner kick. A perfectly weighted pass by Tristan Bruce and the selfless defender took a bending shot to the back post. It found its way through all of the bodies but pinged off the post and back into the fray with Animo being able to clear the ball out of danger. Regulation time ended with the score tied. The game moved on to penalty kicks where the Warriors were not as successful as they were against Loyola. Animo made all of their shots while their keeper blocked two. It was the team that was on their heels for nearly the whole game that advanced.
In the second game of the day, West went down again to start the game. Even though the Warriors were in control of the match for nearly whole first half, it was San Marcos that scored against the run of play. Once again West was trailing at halftime. However, in the second half the persistence that the Warriors showed throughout the tournament paid off once again. They continued their ball-control play from the first half and it paid off seven minutes later. With the ball moving quickly and precisely, an opportunity opened up with Dylan Ray once again finding space on the right flank. His cross found Dane Paulson on the back post. With a bit of a scramble, the freshman winger poked the ball home to tie the game up.
Then with West continuing to put the pressure on the Royals, Tino "Gio" Flokas found his opportunity and floated a well-placed shot to the back post which found side-netting. After taking the lead, the Warrior defense made sure the led held up. Kyle Smith's growing confidence could be seen as his challenges in the midfield slowed or flat out stopped the attack of the opponent. Combined with a solid game by the centerbacks, Kevin Han and Tyler Decelles, San Marcos was not going to make a comeback like West did. Next game up: Monday, Dec. 30 against Ganesha at 12:00.
WARRIORS SHOW RESILIENCE AND EARN SOUTH TOURNAMENT QUARTERS
ERHAHON STRIKES GOLD TWICE WITH TWO GAME-WINNING GOALS
West started the South High JV Tournament well when Anthony Erhahon's early attacking dribble into the box was stopped only when the Lawndale defender hacked his legs out from under him without making a play on the ball. Eight minutes into the game, Nick Davila stepped up and buried the penalty kick. The team's good start, however, was erased when the Cardinals capitalized on mental lapses by the Warriors. At halftime, West faced a 2-1 deficit and needed to regroup if they wanted to win the opening game of the tournament.
In the second half, play was fairly even with neither team willing to concede any ground. West's defensive efforts were much improved but they still trailed in the game with twelve minutes to go. The team needed someone to step up and make a big play. The quiet and technically sound Kanta Izutsu answered the call by unleashing a lightning bolt from 25 yards out that caught the upper-left corner of the goal. The goalie never had a chance. With the momentum, West continued to press and with four minutes to go, Dylan Ray put a cross behind the defense and in front of the soaring super eagle whose diving header broke the deadlock and gave the Warriors a dramatic win in the first game of the tournament.
In the second pool play game, West faced Mira Costa in a rematch. The Mustangs won the first contest between the two teams, but the Warriors played a much better game this time around. The defense was well organized and kept their opponent off-balance and without rhythm in their passing. The anticipation by Dylan and fellow wing-back Tristan Bruce had them constantly intercepting passes while John Zambriski won every ball in the air in the midfield. In the middle of the field, Kyle Smith challenged and disrupted Mira Costa's play through the midfield. Behind him Tyler Decelles and Kevin Han pursued balls played toward their goal and turned them away. The combined play by all of these players resulted in the third shutout of the season for West.
Meanwhile on the offensive side of the ball, it took some time, but West broke through on one of Dylan's many attacking forays down the line. With a quick burst, he got by the outside back and with a deft touch, he put the centerback behind him as he cut in towards the goal on the endline. A well placed cross and Anthony was there to score his second game-winning goal of the day. On to the championship bracket.
WEST AWAKES IN TIME TO TAKE PIONEER LEAGUE OPENER
RITCHEY GETS TWO, YAMAKAWA ONE AND AN ASSIST
It's a habit West would like to break. Another slow start had the Warriors facing a 1-0 deficit halfway through the first half in their Pioneer League opener against Torrance. Soft coverage on a long throw-in let a Tartar nudge home a header at the near post to take the first lead of the game. While it could have been a blow that momentarily dazed the Warriors, it actually acted like a wake-up call. West scored two minutes later and tallied three more in the next fifteen.
Matt Ritchey struck first, volleying in a flicked ball from Thomas Nakano. Eight minutes later, it was the senior captain again with what we can now look back as a comical attempt to score by thrusting his chest forward on a cross by Sean Kelley . Fortunately for him Justus Duenas was on the other end of his whiff and gave him a second chance with another ball across the face of the goal. This time he went with the more conventional finish with his foot to give West a 2-1 lead.
Goal number three was created two minutes later by good ball movement combined with players moving off the ball to stretch the Torrance defense. Seven passes followed by a simple but very effective pass wide and run to the wing by Issei Yamakawa set up his cross to the back post where Zach Merieca headed it home.
West's final goal of the game was created by Sebastian Flores who craftily dribbled past the right outside back and cut in front of him as he entered the penalty box. A clumsy challenge by the Tartar and it was a PK that Issei buried to give the Warriors their final goal of the game, two minutes before halftime.
It was a slow start to the game for West and their defense. Fortunately the offense started to click late in the first half and built what would be an insurmountable lead. In the second half, the Warriors did a better job of pursuing, pressuring, and possessing to limit Torrance's chances. They did not score any more goals, but kept the Tartars scoreless for the last 60 minutes of the game. While it wasn't a perfect game, West got the win and moved to the top of the Pioneer League table.
WARRIORS BEST KNIGHTS TO NET FIRST WIN
HIGHLY CONTESTED GAME TILTS WEST WAY ON ERHAHON'S LATE GOAL
The Warriors may have scored first, but it was Bishop Montgomery that held the lead twelve minutes into the game. Zach Merieca attack into the box resulted in a kick from the spot at the four minute mark. Unfortunately West could not hold the lead as the Knights capitalized on lax defense on two restarts - a corner-kick and then a throw-in. Two uncontested shots later and it was 2-1 visitors.
West knotted the game up when Issei Yamakawa put a 30 yard shot over an ill-prepared keeper. Zach tallied the assist on this goal as well when Kenji Yogi's run down the line created space around Zach and Issei as several defenders dropped off to cover the run. The freshman forward turned away from the flow of the defense and played the senior attacker who took the left-footed chance to tie the game up.
The Warriors nearly took the lead just before the half ended when Ian Robinson's run down the line on the other side of the field put him up against the opponent's right back and keeper at the same time. A deft touch and the junior left back was by both of them but with room running out before the end-line. He got the shot off but was only able to ping the ball off the near-post. The rebound bounced straight back to the previously beaten keeper and the half would end with the score stuck on 2-2.
In the second half West's defensive efforts may not have been perfect but Turner Crump was up to the task when called upon. First he repelled away a close range shot and then followed that up with pushing away a longer ranged shot that tried to sneak over him to the far-post. There was no beating him in the second half.
With Turner's efforts keeping the game tied, it fell upon Anthony Erhahon in the last four minutes of the game to get the win. It was Kenji again who help create this goal. After a quick, one-touch pass from Ian, he put a well-placed volley behind the Knight's defense which created a problem for their center-back and goalkeeper while Anthony pursued the ball. His persistence earned him the ball with the center-back behind him and the goalie in close vicinity. A quick, deft touch beat the keeper and put the Warriors in the lead with only minutes left in the game. With the team finally showing some urgency in their defensive efforts, West closed out the game and earned their first win of the season. Their record now stands at 1-1-2.