Highlanders fall flat in second half, drop league opener
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
Fighting without its biggest defensive presence, the La Habra boys’ soccer team couldn’t fend off an early second-half surge by Fullerton, falling 3-0 on the road in the teams’ Freeway League opener, Wednesday afternoon.
With center back CJ Camacho unavailable, the Highlanders allowed two goals within the first five minutes of the second half. The Indians kept the pressure on late after a pretty even first half.
“It may have been a lack of communication in the back that caused us to let up in the second half,” said La Habra co-coach Earvin Aleman. “We’re hoping CJ is ready to go for Friday.”
The Indians (11-2-2) struggled with accuracy in the first half despite making firm contact on most of their shots.
To start the second half, Fullerton closed the gap, getting the ball inside for all three scores.
Two minutes into the second half, Fullerton midfielder Michael Licon crossed the ball inside and connected with forward Leonardo Morales, who scored on a header above the outstretched arm of La Habra goalkeeper Richie Ruiz.
The Indians weren’t done. In the 45th minute, midfielder Andrew Perez found space from the right and scored by putting the ball past Ruiz on the far side.
Fullerton put the game away in the 56th minute when Morales scored on a no-look shot, redirecting a cross from Perez.
The Highlanders (6-5-2) had opportunities in the first half, but couldn’t put them away.
“I felt we did well in the first half,” Aleman said. “They tried to touch twice and then try to find the long ball. What we wanted to do was press more and not allow them to send it as well as set up in the back so that we were prepared for it when it came.”
Austin Nazer just missed getting a header on a cross by Charlie Aleman in the 30th minute.
Just before halftime, Eric Sandoval’s shot was caught by Fullerton goalkeeper Guillermo Jimenez.
Before the game, the Fullerton soccer program honored the memory of Steve Aanderud by playing “Amazing Grace” and holding a moment of silence. In a move by Sonora head coach Cory Witt to honor Aanderud, all players in the Freeway League will wear arm bands with his name throughout league play.
La Habra continues league play with a road matchup against Sunny Hills, Friday at 3 p.m.
“They’re a good team, but like any team they have weaknesses,” Aleman said. “We just want to be prepared. We’ll take what we need from this game, but most of it we’ll just forget about and start fresh.”