Undersized Yuma Catholic tops Antelope 3-0 in opener
When the Shamrocks stepped on the field Monday night against Antelope, height was not one of their strong suits. Goal scoring, however, was.
Yuma Catholic freshman forward Jorge Ruiz scored two goals in their 3-0 win over the Rams to open both teams' schedule.
The Shamrocks came out a bit slow and had some issues on the left side of their defense, but were able to keep the play geared toward the middle of the field.
“We played a really controlled game tonight,” said Yuma Catholic head coach Ralph Evans. “I thought our left side was a little weak in the beginning so in the second half we made some changes on personnel there and it paid off.”
Being shorthanded due to illness, Evans shifted freshman defender Bobby Cortazar from left to right defense, inserted sophomore Ben Decky at left defense and put Eli Garcia at left midfield, which seemed to solve all the Shamrocks issues.
Once the adjustments were made, scoring opportunities finally started to show up with the Yuma Catholic forwards taking advantage of every scoring opportunity.
Yuma Catholic's first goal came in the 22nd minute off a rebound which Ruiz lofted softly over the defense into the back of the net from roughly 12 yards out.
“Carlos Lopez ran up to the goal keeper and the ball just bounced and I just lobbed it in,” Ruiz said. “You need to hit it hard and you need to concentrate, but you don't want to hit it too hard so it goes over or too soft so you miss. It's just like being exact.”
Ruiz showed off more of that precision in the second half. In the 15th minute freshman midfielder Fernando Ramirez fed Ruiz, who got past one defender and put an 18-yarder over a leaping goalkeeper into the net.
“We're pretty excited,” Ruiz said. “We worked hard as a team, worked hard everyday at practice. We came here and fought hard and came away with the result.”
The Shamrocks have only one senior this year, but Evans is excited about his young offense.
“(Jorge's) a little fireball,” he said. “He's one of the smallest kids on the team too. We were expecting numbers out of him and Omar (Rojas) but we were really happy with him.”
Rojas scored the final goal in a scary moment. Rojas sent the ball off at the last second after colliding head-on with Antelope senior goal keeper Rafa Lizarde. Rojas returned to the game but Lizarde had to be helped off the field and did not return.
Antelope head coach Alfonso Perez was disappointed with his team's inability to press the ball forward as they have in the past.
“I thought we were actually going to be able to move the ball up,” he said. “We played too sloppy in the back and weren't able to get it past midfield. We weren't distributing the ball in an effective way. It was either some guy that was marked or in the space that we didn't want the ball to go. We didn't do our job moving the ball and had sloppy mistakes that cost us.”
Perez will emphasize ball distribution in practice this week to prepare for their game against Parker on Nov. 29.
The Shamrocks get a bit of a break as they also play Parker on Dec. 4.