High school soccer: Late goal seals Cienega's victory

VanAlstine's goal hands Palo Verde 1st loss of season
2012-12-13T00:00:00Z High school soccer: Late goal seals Cienega's victoryAndrew Cockrum Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 13, 2012 12:00 am  • 

With the score tied 1-1 and two minutes remaining, Cienega's Kyle VanAlstine fired a shot in hopes of ending Palo Verde's undefeated season.

VanAlstine's kick was in line with goalkeeper Johnny Ramirez, but the ball sailed over Ramirez's head. Even though the Titans keeper got a piece of it with his outstretched hands, the ball landed in the back of the net to give the Bobcats a 2-1 victory in the second day of the Chris Maier Sabercat Invitational at Sabino High School.

"It was really exciting. I felt (the shot), and I'm glad I went for it," said VanAlstine.

The sophomore forward's score was part of an increased offensive effort and a formation change to better attack Palo Verde's defense.

"We put more people forward in our attack and made an adjustment in our formation," said Cienega assistant coach Dean Nourse, who was filling in for head coach Mike Corbus on Wednesday.

The Bobcats (2-5-1) tied the game in the 58th minute when Matt Ortega was left alone by the Titans defense and was able to scoot the ball past a diving Ramirez for a goal.

Both scores by Cienega came while playing with only 10 players, after Alonso Huizar received a red card in the 55th minute.

"We were more hyped up, and we were trailing so we had to come back and take some efforts at the goal," VanAlstine said.

Defensively, the Bobcats were aided by six saves from senior goalkeeper John Gardner.

The second-half performance by Cienega came after a first half controlled by the Titans, who came into the game with a 5-0 record.

Jesus Gastelum put Palo Verde ahead 1-0 in the 25th minute with an unassisted goal to the right side of the net.

"They have some incredibly good attacking players with speed and skill, and they challenge hard for every ball. They are a very physical team," Nourse said.

The Titans defense was able to cut off the Bobcats' early scoring opportunities with the help of their secondary defense lead by Jairo Velazquez.

"When he is not in the game, there is a serious letdown on the defense," said Palo Verde coach Mario Gastellum. "He pulls them together, communicates real well and keeps it in order out there."

The victory was Cienega's first since Nov. 29 against Sabino.

"We played well, but we got to pick it up more," said VanAlstine.

The two teams continue play in the invitational today Cienega faces Salpointe Catholic, and Palo Verde takes on Amphitheater.

Both games are scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

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