A late first half goal by Sunny Hills Sophomore forward Diego Useda led the Lancers to a 1-0 Freeway League victory over the Sonora Raiders Friday.
In a match dictated by defensive play both teams had few clear scoring opportunities.
In the opening half Sunny Hills (16-6-1, 6-1) attempted to implement their forwards speed to break through the Sonora defense, but several through balls ended up being calmly collected by Raiders goalkeeper Johny Toppen.
Crosses and corner kicks were not a consistent source of attacking opportunities for the Lancers either.
Many of the Lancers cross attempts into the Sonora penalty box would end up collected by Toppen, Sonora defenders, or cleared up field or out of bounds.
Without the ball, Sunny Hills was equally as effective defensively as Sonora was for most of the first half.
The Raiders were able to keep possession for extended moments in the first half but the Lancers defended with 10 men in their own half in most instances of Raider possession.
Sonora (10-8-2, 3-4) was unable to create scoring chances due to Lancers keeping build up play out of their final third through constant pressure and clearances.
As the first half headed towards its conclusion neither team seemed able to create a clear chance.
Though the Lancers forwards speed didn’t produce clear scoring chances for most of the game, on one occasion it made the difference between staying in a stalemate and taking the lead.
Sunny Hills created their most clear scoring opportunity of the game when Lancers defender Christian De Guzman sent a pass to Useda down the side of the field in Raiders territory.
Useda controlled the pass and quickly made his way down line into the Raiders final third.
The sophomore made his way through a challenge by a Sonora defender by the sideline and subsequently made his way into the penalty box in a matter of seconds.
Unchallenged, Useda dribbled towards the front of the Raiders goal and when he was a few feet away slotted his shot past Toppen, who unsuccessfully attempted a kick save, to make it 1-0.
The second half like most of the first half was defined by defense.
The Lancers didn’t immediately resign themselves to defending their lead in the half.
At points in the half the Lancers created build up play through the middle of the field, but due to overpowered passes or defensive discipline by Sonora their through ball attempts, which their build up play often culminated in, did not lead to scoring chances.
Offsides was a persistent issue for Sunny Hills forwards in the second half and stopped more than a few breakaways.
In need of a goal to tie the game, Sonora took more offensive initiative as the half went on.
The Raiders sent crosses and centers into the Lancers penalty box throughout the second half.
Playing through the air mostly led to clearances by Sunny Hills defenders if not simple saves for Lancers goalkeeper Richard Orihuela.
With playing through the air and ground not leading to clear scoring chances the Raiders utilized long range shots.
In the final minutes of the game Sonora came close to sending the match into overtime through a long range strike.
As the game neared the final whistle Raiders midfielder Erik Estrada sent a strike from the side of the Lancers half towards the goal.
Estradas strike was on its way into the Lancers goal but a diving Orihuela deflected the ball away from the goal.
Sonora got one final chance to equalize the game moments later when forward Jose Valenzuela was fouled outside the penalty box.
With one of the last kicks of the game Midfielder Blake Tourville sent a free kick over the Lancers goal.
“We call it nga no goals against and that’s important to us and against you know strong teams like Troy the other day and Sonora today that’s a great accomplishment for us,” said Sunny Hills Head Coach Mike Schade about his team’s defensive performance.
The First place Lancers will next be in Freeway League action Monday when they visit La Habra. Sonora will visit Fullerton High School on Monday.