Currently No. 1 in the state, the Rams played a solid game and beat the Vikings 2-1. The Rams remain undefeated both overall (7-0-1) and in NorCal Coast Conference (2-0-1) play.
The Rams were on the offensive in the first half, while maintaining a steady defense. The Rams were well-met by a solid Vikings defense.
For coach Adam Lucarelli and the Rams, the first half of the game against West Valley led to winning their second conference game of the season.
“We had a game plan that we worked on for West Valley earlier in the week, and the first half worked perfectly,” Lucarelli said. “I thought we controlled the tempo of the game. We played well and scored two goals, we missed a PK (Penalty Kick) but I felt that we were controlling the game well.”
As the Referee signaled the start of the game, the Rams imposed an offensive game pace trying to score early in the game but were not able due to a solid marking by West Valley’s defense.
In the 11th minute, Vikings freshman forward Danijel Dukic had the ball at the 18-yard box directly in front of Rams goalie, Martin De La Torre, who made a save that kept the game leveled at 0-0.
From the sidelines, Lucarelli pushed his players to keep challenging their opponent.
18 minutes in, after a corner-kick rebound, Rams sophomore forward Juan Miguel Perez sent a cross to the box as sophomore midfielder Juan Palacio anticipated the Vikings’ defenders to head the ball off the crossbar.
In a similar situation six minutes later, Palacio was held in the box. The referee marked the penalty kick, giving the Rams the chance to score first.
Freshman forward Arnol Arceta was chosen for the penalty kick but West Valley’s goalie jumped to the left and made the save to keep the game tied.
Despite missing the penalty kick, the Rams didn’t give up and scored in the 30th minute.
Lucarelli had just substituted freshman forward Julian Del Toro into the game.
On his first touch, Del Toro scored the Rams first goal of the game when midfielder Ricardo Guerra saw Del Toro in the area.
Guerra sent the pass off of a free kick and Del Toro was quick enough to head the ball over the Viking’s goalie to put the Rams up 1-0.
“I saw “Rica” (Ricardo Guerra), he called my name and sent a long ball,” Del Toro said. “I ran after it and saw the goalie had come out (to Del Toro’s advantage). I knew once I hit it, it was gonna go in because of how the goalie came out.”
Four minutes before the end of the first half, Rams sophomore forward Arnulfo Garcia, who had come off the bench, took an assist from Juan Palacio and scored the Rams’ second goal of the match.
Juan Palacio who gave Arnulfo the assist off of an early cross in the midfield was confident his teammate would score.
“I knew he was gonna get it,” Palacio said. “He hustled for the ball, he did what he did against Santa Rosa, same way. He chipped (the ball) over the goalkeeper.”
Del Toro added that he was happy to score the first goal of the game helping his team acquire another win.
“I felt good because that helped us keep the momentum going after and just help finish the game,” Del Toro said.
Although the Vikings put the Rams on the defensive in the second half, the Vikings could only score once.
In the 79th minute of the game, Vikings’ defender Nick Butler took a through pass and struck the ball high into the Rams net.
The Rams resisted until the final whistle to celebrate a tough win against the Vikings.
Despite the Vikings’ goal, Rams goalie De La Torre is currently ranked as the state’s top ranked goalkeeper. De La Torre has given up just three goals in 700 minutes played.
The undefeated Rams will face Hartnell College at Hartnell on Oct. 5. Kickoff time is 4 p.m.
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