Sports

Highlanders can’t find finishing touch against Troy

La Habra midfielder Israel Alvarez gets tangled up with Troy's Nick Bollier as they chase after a loose ball during the second half of the Highlanders' 1-0 loss at Troy, Friday afternoon.
La Habra midfielder Israel Alvarez gets tangled up with Troy’s Nick Bollier as they chase after a loose ball during the second half of the Highlanders’ 1-0 loss at Troy, Friday afternoon. Photos by Jay Seidel, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Hopes for a playoff spot went downhill for the La Habra boys’ soccer team after it fell to Troy 1-0, Friday afternoon at Troy High.

While both teams created a handful of chances, Troy benefitted from a lucky bounce in the first half and held on for the victory.

“We were moving the ball around and creating chances, we just couldn’t get that tying goal,” said Earvin Aleman, La Habra co-coach.

The Highlanders had four big opportunities in the first half with two corner kicks and two free kicks within a five-minute span.

The closest La Habra got on any of those opportunities was Israel’s free kick in the 20th minute, which started just outside the box and was saved by Troy goalkeeper Kevin Schulte on the near side.

The chances were a result of La Habra’s aggressiveness after Troy put in its goal in the 17th minute.

“Up to that point, I felt that Troy was controlling the game,” Aleman said. “We needed to put one of those in to put them on their toes because I felt like the last 20 minutes of the first half and most of the second half, we controlled the game.”

Troy Midfielder Tommy Nguyen crossed a ball in to Nick Bollier, whose shot ricocheted off a defender and into the left side of the net.

La Habra goalkeeper Richie Ruiz was ready to defend the shot before it was redirected.

The Highlanders had two great chances to try to tie the score in the second half.

La Habra's Kolby McInally shields the ball away from Troy's Tommy Nguyen during the second half of Troy's 1-0 win, Friday afternoon.
La Habra’s Kolby McInally shields the ball away from Troy’s Tommy Nguyen during the second half of Troy’s 1-0 win, Friday afternoon.

In the 52nd minute, a free kick by Alvarez sailed over Schulte’s head and toward the far side, but bounced off the post.

After the Warriors failed to clear, a shot by Kolby McInally was blocked by a defender.

Later in the half, the Highlanders’ Charlie Aleman took possession and pushed down field before attempting to push a through ball up top to Chris Valencia.

However, the Warriors got a piece of the pass and cleared it out.

Toward the end of the half, frustration began to mount for the Highlanders, which led to more individual play.

“I think they were just a little frustrated, there were some calls that could have gone here or there,” Aleman said. “But I think just having those chances and not being able to put them away, that was where most of it came from.”

The Highlanders currently stand at 5th in the Freeway League, one game behind Sonora, which beat Buena Park 2-0, Friday afternoon.

The two city rivals will meet up for the second time this season, next Tuesday at La Habra High.

The Raiders took the first meeting, 4-1 at Sonora.

“They’re the same team, but I feel like the last two or three games, we’ve been playing our best soccer,” Aleman said. “Usually when people talk about Troy, they always talk about them destroying teams here, but I feel we played our game and forced them to make adjustments. Hopefully we can carry that.”

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