Sports

Raiders rally late, salvage tie with Buena Park

Web_LHJ_SHS_Cal_Bsoc_200by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After playing flat and falling behind in the 85th minute, the Sonora boys’ soccer team put it together in the final 16 minutes and nearly came away with a win against Buena Park on Wednesday afternoon.

But an open shot by midfielder Pedro Curiel sailed just wide left toward the end of the second overtime period and the Raiders settled for a 1-1 draw with Buena Park on the road.

Forward Eli Rico-Torres pushed a ball to the far side past Buena Park goalkeeper Armando Medina to tie the score in the 91st minute.

The score was set up by a beautiful forward pass from midfielder Christian Estrada.

“In reality, we put together three quality chances in the end,” said Cory Witt, Sonora head coach. “We wanted to switch the ball because our outsides were open. We finally executed well enough to give ourselves a chance. I was elated [with the effort late], you don’t want to come out of here with a loss.”

The score salvaged a game in which the Raiders struggled to adjust to Buena Park’s narrow field.

In addition, the team may have also been flat due to last Friday’s big win over Fullerton.

“They play with a lot of heart here, I give them a lot of credit,” Witt said of the Coyotes. “They come in and battle, no one likes to lose at home.”

However, despite the adversity, Buena Park couldn’t generate much in the offensive third either, as most opportunities were taken away by goalkeeper Luis Gonzalez.

The Coyotes’ missed an opportunity when forward David Cortes’ hard shot was blocked away by Gonzalez in the 36th minute.

Cortes had found a way past his defender and delivered a hard shot to the near post from the right side, but Gonzalez handled it and pushed it to the far right.

On the other side, Sonora struggled to connect passes and often turned the ball over when players held too long.

“The conditions are tough here, this is the narrowest field in our league, but knowing that you have to make adjustments,” Witt said. “Our touch was off, our first touches were terrible. I told the kids that a lot of them left their heart at home, they have to go find it, but sometimes you have those hangovers after a big win like we had against Fullerton.”

Twice in the second half, the Raiders had a chance from the corner, but two headers by Abraham Velasquez on the back side stayed wide.

Then, in the first overtime, Sonora got a wake-up call. Buena Park midfielder Juan Ramos collected a loose ball at the edge of the box and fired a shot to the upper right corner to put the Coyotes up 1-0 in the 84th minute.

Cortes collected a through ball and earned a breakaway, but Gonzalez made a spectacular save and pushed the ball to the left side.

Sonora had three chances in the second overtime and converted on one of them. A point-blank shot by Jose Murillo was saved by Medina.

However, Medina couldn’t get to Rico-Torres’ shot in the 94th minute.

The draw, coupled with La Habra’s draw with Troy, sets up a crucial matchup on Friday afternoon, when the two city rivals meet up at Sonora High.

“These boys will be ready for sure, that’s a game they’ll be up for,” Witt said. “We just want to see them bring that same effort, that same desire to every game and that’s why we kept our preseason light so we could keep them hungry. Today was a little disappointing, but we weren’t giving them too many chances to score.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.