Posted on 24 January 2014 by La Habra Journal
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
A soccer game that started as a city rivalry turned into the Eli Rico-Torres show in the second half as the Sonora boys’ soccer team ousted La Habra 4-1, Friday afternoon at Sonora High.
The junior forward was credited with all four of Sonora’s goals and scored three of them in the second half, breaking out of a personal slump in the process.
“We just wanted to get in there and play our hardest and do whatever we needed to do to score,” Rico-Torres said. “I just got lucky that my teammates put the ball where I needed it to be and I was able to finish.”
Sonora (5-3-3, 2-1-1) gained momentum going into the half when a free kick by Juan Villalobos appeared to bounce off the head of a La Habra defender for an own goal.
The Raiders controlled the majority of the second half and took the lead for good in the 51st minute.
What started as a goal kick from keeper Luis Gonzalez turned into a Rico-Torres goal off a pretty cross by forward Giancarlo Oros from the left side.
In the 60th minute, Villalobos pushed a through ball to the right side where Rico-Torres used his speed to get past the defender and push a shot past La Habra keeper Richie Ruiz and into the far side.
“At halftime we made some necessary adjustments that [La Habra] didn’t pick up on,” said Cory Witt, Sonora head coach. “One of the things we talk about here is ‘Possession with a purpose’, you can possess the ball near midfield, but if you’re not doing anything with it, what’s the point? They started making those adjustments in the second half and once we got one, it was like the floodgates opened up a bit.”
Rico-Torres put the game away in the 72nd minute after using the left foot to loft a shot over Ruiz and into the far side of the goal.
Though the Raiders finished on top, it was La Habra that came out with a sense of urgency in the hopes of earning its first league win.
“In the first 10-15 minutes [Sonora] pressured us quite a bit, but I thought we did a good job of handling it,” said Earvin Aleman, La Habra co-coach. “Then we ended up scoring the goal, but what let us down was the last play, that’s the story of our season, you can’t allow a soft goal, it deflates a team.”
La Habra (6-7-3, 0-3-1) nearly got on the board in the 20th minute when Charlie Aleman caught Gonzalez out of position, but his shot to the far side was kicked out by a defender. Oscar Garcia collected the loose ball, but his shot soared over the goal.
Charlie Aleman again forced Gonzalez out of position in the 24th minute by driving and taking a shot through defenders. This time however, the ball was deflected right to Garcia, who easily put it in for a 1-0 lead.
Earvin Aleman believes that the own-goal mishap was the turning point of the game as it deflated the team heading into halftime.
The two teams will close out the first half of league play next Tuesday. Sonora will head to Sunny Hills for a tough matchup with the Lancers.
“This Freeway League is a slugfest and with the way our point system is, you’re never out,” Witt said. “We got two points with the win, this was step 4-of-10 and we aren’t looking ahead to step six or eight without first getting through step five, which is Sunny Hills. We’ll celebrate this win a little bit tonight and we’ll come back ready to go.”
For La Habra, the result was another example of the hard luck season it has had to endure this winter. The Highlanders will host Buena Park to close out the first half of league play.
“With our league, you just never know, there’s still six games so we still have time,” Aleman said. “All great teams go through a drought, we just need one positive result and then keep it going from there. We’ll make some adjustments on the back, there was some communication issues there we need to work on.”