Ryan Souza, left, of Aliso Niguel battles for the ball against Ryan Bishop of Laguna Hills during a Sea View League soccer match at Aliso Niguel High School.

Souza puts Aliso Niguel on brink of claiming league title


ALISO VIEJO – It is probably the most difficult play to defend in high school boys soccer. It doesn’t involve a head or a foot and it begins off the field, with a player directing the ball on a high-flying arc toward the goal.

A long throw-in can turn the game into a physical battle in the box. Often it is hard to keep track of the ball during the chaos that ensues.

“Normal kids are expecting the throw to be 15 yards, and they forget that a long throw is coming,” Aliso Niguel coach Randy Dodge said. “And Ryan (Souza) threw it deep.”

It is difficult to find anyone in the county who can toss the ball farther than the Wolverines senior defender. Souza fired the ball some 40 yards across the field Friday, and it delivered the winning goal in Aliso’s 3-0 victory against visiting No. 5 Laguna Hills in a Sea View League showdown.

Jacob Huber got his hands on the throw as he leaped to make a save for the Hawks, but he lost control of it and the ball bounced off the crossbar and behind the goal line one minute before halftime.

“Those throws,” Dodge said, “are tough to gauge coming out of the air.”

Souza also provided the assist on Jaden Slusiewicz’s goal that put the Wolverines up, 2-0, in the 48th minute. Collin Ford set the final margin, knocking in a pass from Ryan Cooper in the 70th minute.

The result moves the Wolverines (10-4-1, 5-1-1) into first place with one league game remaining. With a victory over Tesoro on Tuesday, they would clinch the league championship.

Quick, precise passes that use the full width of the field is how Laguna Hills has done most of its damage this season, but Dodge said he used a game plan that took away the midfield. The Hawks (9-5-3, 3-1-2) didn’t put any shots on goal.

“They are way better talent-wise than us,“ Dodge said. “But my guys have competed all year.”

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