Sonora survives early missteps to beat California

LA HABRA – The Sonora boy’s soccer team was not at its best on Tuesday, at times lacking the organization in the backline that has produced four shutouts in eight games.

And California High of Whittier took advantage of the host Raiders’ missteps, scoring a game-tying goal in the 21st minute.

But No. 10 Sonora, coach Cory Witt said, showed its camaraderie and belief in one another on Tuesday. And that turned their early bickering into constructive criticism in the second half which Witt said eventually delivered a 2-1 victory against a team that has proven quite difficult for the Raiders to beat in the past.

“This is a team that Sonora has notoriously lost or tied, and today we came out with a win because we struck together,” Witt said. “In the second half you could hear them yelling to each other, ‘Come on we can do this. Pick up your energy.’ The believed they could win this game. And that is important because not every one can be a 4-0 blow out.”

But Sonora (5-0-3), Witt said, thought this nonleague game might be headed that way when Jose Melendez scored the first of his two goals in the sixth minute after the California defender marking him slipped in a patch of mud on the field.

“The feeling was this is going to be easy. We are going to have a bunch of chances coming our way,” Witt said. “But then they stopped coming.”

And not long after, some confusion among the Raiders’ defenders on the left side of the field opened up some space for Jose Contreras to take a shot at Sonora’s goal. The ball grazed Luis Gonzalez’s hand as he dived to try and make the save, but he couldn’t stop it from rolling in.

“And from there it was a battle there on out,” Witt said. “They kind of rode the momentum shift there for a long time.”

It lasted until the 61st minute when two costly fouls turned the game in Sonora’s favor.

First came a red card which gave the Raiders a man advantage. Then not too long after that, the Condors’ center back was booked for talking back to the ref, so he had to go to the bench.

The play that set up Melendez’s game-winning goal in the 75th minute started right where that California defender would have been playing.

“We have a system but we abandoned it today,” Witt said. “But in the last 10 minutes we went back to it. We are happy to come away with a win.” 

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