Luis Gonzalez | La Habra Journal

Posted on 03 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

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Sonora forward Jose Murillo works the ball around Cal’s Jose Contreras during the second half of the Raiders 2-1 victory, Friday afternoon at Cal High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

WHITTIER – Execution and the ability to seize opportunities helped to lift the Sonora boys’ soccer team to a 2-1 victory over California, Friday afternoon at California High in Whittier.

While the Condors held an edge in ball control, the Raiders capitalized on their opportunities in the offensive third, something they struggled with a week prior against Western.

Senior forward Mario Madrigal knocked in the game winner on a set piece in the 70th minute.

Steve Vizarraga started the play with a free kick just outside the right corner of the box, which found the head of Jose Murillo on the far side. Murillo’s header went straight to Madrigal on the near side in front of the net, where he tapped the ball in to take the lead for good.

“That’s a testament to their work in practice, we’ve been working a lot on set pieces,” said Cory Witt, Sonora head coach. “You can design it however you want, but it has to be executed to perfection and at the end of a game like that when you’re muscles aren’t quite cooperating and your mind is going askew, to knuckle down like that in a hard fought, physical game, it was really great.”

The goal made up for a five-minute period earlier in the half where the Raiders seemed to lose focus after taking a 1-0 lead.

All three goals were scored in the second half.

Sonora (1-2-1) took the lead in the 54th minute by taking advantage of a failed attempt by California to clear the ball out of its defensive zone.

Forward Giancarlo Oros intercepted a pass and fired a shot, which was blocked by Cal goalkeeper Oscar Santana.

However, Oros collected the rebound and found a way past Santana. With a defender still pressuring, he crossed in front of the net to freshman Cesar Coronado, who finished the play with an easy score.

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Sonora junior Joey Montalvo pushes the ball past Cal’s Joshua Gomez during the second half of Sonora’s 2-1 win, Friday afternoon at Cal High.

“They’re time of possession, I thought, was ineffective in a way because it was mostly in their middle and their defensive third,” Witt said. “We’ll let teams have that all day long if they want. It comes down to how you move forward and attack the offensive third. I’m happy, I thought our forwards stepped up in the second half, we challenged them to be more of a presence and they did what we asked them to do.”

But the goal only seemed to wake up Cal (6-2-0), which spent the next four minutes putting continuous pressure on Sonora’s defense.

Finally, forward Jose Contreras lofted a shot over the head of Sonora goalkeeper Luis Gonzalez to tie the match in the 58th minute.

Aside from the lone goal, it was another strong performance from Sonora’s senior keeper. Gonzalez finished with 10 saves, including a diving save in the 50th minute. Gonzalez also poked a ball away from Cal’s Andre Prado in a one-on-one situation in the 78th minute.

The Condors’ Carlos Palomares had a pair of hard shots turned away by Gonzalez in the first half, while Sonora’s best opportunity in the first half sailed high off the foot of Coronado.

The Raiders will face Bolsa Grande in their next nonleague matchup, next Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Sonora High.

“We just want to shore up our small ball, we want to play the ball quicker and understand each other’s movements,” Witt said. “We’re doing a few things where we leave ourselves weak in the back because too many guys are going forward. We’re going to work on our communication and our small ball, if we can get that shored up then we’ll be ready to go.”

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