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Sonora struggles with field conditions; ties Orange
BREA – A scoreless tie might not be the most exciting thing to watch in boys soccer from a spectators point of view.
But coaches tend to view things differently. And Orange coach Victor Esparza was quite happy with what he saw out of his Panthers in Thursday’s Wildcat Cup pool play game against Sonora.
The Raiders came out on the attack and spent most of the game camped out in the final third. Playing four in the back with a holding midfielder, the Panthers remained disciplined defenesively, holding their shape, marking up and putting pressure on the Raiders as soon as they touched the ball.
“We have improved 100 percent (from last season). I am looking forward to the season,” Esparza said. “They are buying into the system. It has taken some time. We are still not perfect, but we are coming around.”
The Panthers (1-1-1) had to play without their starting keeper senior Jiovanny Sanchez. He got kicked while playing Villa Park last week and needed stitches to close the gash left in his head.
The Raiders (2-0-2) had to deal with an injury, too, on Thrusday. Javier Curiel, Sonora’s catalyst up top, only played the first 10 minutes againt Orange. Sonora coach Cory Witt said Curiel “tweaked a knee” in the Raiders’ first Wildcat Cup game on Wednesday.
“He creates a lot of chances for us,” Witt said. “But the rest of the guys stepped up. Sometimes you win and sometimes you draw. That is the way it is.”
The length of the field was the real problem for Sonora, Witt said. It was shorter than a regulation, so Witt said the Raiders couldn’t find space behind the defenders.
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have their chances to score.
In the 58th minute, Andy Araiza made it into the box and was lining up to take a shot from about 10 yards out, but before he could get his foot on the ball, Roberto Orozco made a clean sliding tackle and cleared the ball for the Panthers.
Then with 15 minutes to go, Sonora took aim at the Panthers again when Carlos Salinas dribbled around two defenders as he made his way toward the 6-yard box, but his shot was just wide.
When the team’s met last week, Sonora left with a 4-0 vcitory, but that game was played on a smooth turf field. Wednesday’s game was contested on a muddy, lumpy grass field that doubles as the oufield for the softball diamond.
“This is a tough surface. It is slippery. It was just sloppy. The field quality played a factor today,” Witt said. “But I am confident in our ability. We just had an off day.”