Despite opportunities, Sonora battles Whittier to scoreless draw
Story and photos by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
WHITTIER – Playing on slippery, muddy field conditions, the Sonora boys’ soccer team created plenty of chances, but couldn’t find a finishing touch against Whittier as the two teams battled to a scoreless draw, Friday afternoon at Whittier High.
The Raiders (3-2-2) had two great chances in the first half that were turned away by freshman goalkeeper Luis Barrera. Sonora controlled the last 15 minutes of the game and threatened to score, but couldn’t put it away.
“I thought our stamina held up toward the end of the game, I thought we had more chances throughout,” said Cory Witt, Sonora head coach. “It was definitely in our favor, so I can take that home with me. Going into league, it’s better than a loss for sure, it wasn’t the win I was hoping for, but I think we’re clicking.”
Twice in the first half, the Raiders found themselves with an advantage in the offensive third.
However, Barrera made diving stops on both situations, including a header by Andy Araiza, and Sonora couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing corner kicks.
“He’s been making stops like that all year,” said Alex Clark, Whittier head coach. “He’s kept us in almost every ball game this year because of plays like those.”
The Raiders used this game as a tune up for league play, which meant getting reps for some of the team’s bench players.
Those reserves got valuable time during the later stages of the first half and the beginning of the second half.
“Going into league play, playing time is few and far between for a few guys down on the depth chart, so it was a day where we needed to get some of those kids in the game,” Witt said. “I discovered some depth that we have in a few positions today.”
During the final 15 minutes of the game, Sonora dominated time of possession and kept the ball in the offensive third for the majority of that time.
Andrew Cooley had an opportunity in the 70th minute, but his shot was knocked away by Barrera, which led to a corner kick for the Raiders.
On that ensuing corner kick, Barrera again got in the way, this time making a save on a header by Luis Saldivar. Sophomore Christian Estrada collected the rebound, but misfired wide left.
Sonora’s defense kept the Cardinals (4-7-1) from creating many chances, however, the Raiders’ goalkeepers were challenged a pair of times on free kicks near the box.
Whittier had a chance on a corner kick in the 75th minute, but it was cleared away by Sonora.
The Raiders open up Freeway League play at home against Troy, next Wednesday at 3 p.m.
“Ultimately, the plan worked, these kids aren’t injured or beat up, they’re chomping at the bit like I was hoping for,” Witt said. “In all areas of the game, they put an exhibition today except for finishing. We’ll continue to work on it. Soccer’s a game of chances, and I think every team gets five in a game. It depends on what you do with them.”