Sports

Witt fires up team for Raider victory

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

After a sluggish first half, three second-half goals for the Raiders helped them to a 4-1 win over Bolsa Grande last Wednesday.
Tied at one at halftime, the Raiders were given a challenge by head coach Cory Witt…score three goals or run.sonora_raiders
“It’s frightening to run, because none of us want to do that,” Christopher Dimas said about the possibility of running after the game.
The Raiders (3-3-2) had played with disinterest, appeared confident they could sleep through this game and get a victory, but just before halftime Bolsa Grande (2-6) beat them in the defensive zone and got a clean look for a goal.
The goal wasn’t anything fancy, but was a product of lackluster defense and hustle.
“We came out in the first half, oh we’re gonna win this game, and we don’t have to try that hard, which I told them at halftime, is a complete and utter disrespect for an opponent,” Witt explained.
The coach didn’t need more signs to issue the challenge.
“I don’t care who the opponent is,  you go out there and you go play your best,” Witt said.  “You bring out the best in their abilities as well.”
Sure enough, the Raiders responded.
“First half, we were playing with a sense of arrogance, and they were playing with passion, and the second half we decided to play with a little bit of passion,” Witt said.
The passion he saw in Bolsa Grande, which he wanted from them was displayed in their soccer.
“The passion came from, trusting one another, touching the ball quickly, moving the ball from offense to defense in a smooth, quick fashion, and the result paid off,” Witt said.
They entered the second half with a different intensity, and scored their first second half goal within the first 10 minutes.
“The second half they took those words to heart, and they went out there and played to their ability,” Witt said.
Dimas scored the first goal off an assist from Joey Montalvo, but it was the third goal that highlighted the change in attitude.
Pushing the ball past midfield, Dimas was found open just outside the box.
A ground pass was sent his direction but Montalvo realized the defense was rushing in his direction and told him to let the ball go.
Aware of the situation, Dimas dummied the ball through his legs, right to Montalvo who finished the ball to give the Raiders their third second half goal and a 4-1 lead.
“I did not expect him to let it go,” Montalvo said about the pass he received from Dimas.
Afraid of the reaction he would have gotten from his teammates, he made sure to finish the shot.
“They probably would have chewed me out,” Montalvo said.
Eli Rico-Torres scored the first goal 20 minutes into the game when he received a throw in from Montalvo. Once he had the ball, it took just a few dribbles before he ripped a shot with his left foot to net the first goal.
Rico-Torres also scored the Raiders third goal as they inched closer to their objective.
The midfield offensive pressure changed in the second half, as they received balls and quickly looked to move it upfield, rather than dribbling it into pressure.
“When your midfielders in the first half are holding the ball five, six touches, trying to make people look foolish, dribbling one or two players, and then five minutes into the second half, they’re collecting the ball and getting rid of it right away, two touch three touch soccer, you can tell right there that okay these guys mean it, they’re gonna play,” Witt said.
The Raiders followed with a 4-0 win against Whittier High School Friday, and enter Freeway League play Wednesday against Sunny Hills at home.
Witt added, “they’ve got to rely on one another to be successful.”

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