The Oak Ridge High boys soccer program fell 4-0 to Bella Vista Thursday evening at home, postponing its elusive first win of the pre-season at least one more match.
Bella Vista, fresh off of a 5-0 win over Roseville, scored all four goals in the first half. A deep shot from beyond the 18-yard mark, and a trio of miscommunications on defense came as a rude awakening for the Trojans, who adjusted well in the second half to stop the bleeding.
“There was some bad communication defensively,” head coach Henry Reis said. “We transitioned much better and played much better defensively in the second half.”
Troy was able to hold off the Bronco offensive during the second half of play. Junior keeper Tanner Rosenbaum tended the net in the first, and was relieved by Connor Hayes for the second half. While Oak Ridge’s offense struggled to get going, Reis pointed out the importance of a tough pre-season schedule when rebuilding a program.
“We’re just adjusting right now,” Reis said. “They’ve gotten better every game. There are some communication issues right now, but as the season progresses I’m sure they will be able to mesh together and play well.”
Reis and his coaching staff are no strangers to building championship programs, and have taken the road of diversity to accomplish that task. Midfielder Daniel Bonal, defender Doug James, captain defender Payam Mowzooni and his co-captain defender Kevin Hanson are the only seniors on the squad this year. With three freshman, five sophomores and eight juniors, Mowzooni and Hanson will be relied upon for leadership, encouragement and the cohesion of the roster this fall season.
“They (Mowzooni and Hanson) are good leaders for this team. They have good communication on the team; they’re well-liked by the other kids on the team — both good defenders,” Reis said.
As with all teams in the Delta River League this season, improvements in the off-season will become apparent in conference play. For Oak Ridge, communication and offensive performance under pressure will be two elements Reis and Co. are seeking to work on prior to Troy’s league-opener against Folsom later this month.
“Being able to work with the forwards will be good,” Reis said. “We are struggling to put balls away in game situations. In practice they look great; we just need to translate that into pressure situations.”
Sophomore Alex Piatak and junior Ahmed Abdalla are two potential threats working in Oak Ridge’s favor. With solid speed and ball-handling abilities, both will be leaned on to put things away when they matter most. If the Bella Vista loss will teach Oak Ridge anything, it’s that the defense is coming along — and some offense could alleviate any peripheral troubles in the backfield.
Oak Ridge will pick up a final pre-season prep game against Cordova at home Sept. 10. Game starts at 4 p.m. The Lancers have been busy this early fall, competing in the Yosemite Cup tournament at the end of August. They will take on Placer and Pioneer before facing off against Oak Ridge.