When the rain and hail cleared and headed east, the Doherty boys’ soccer team set about storming Rampart’s net with a vengeance Thursday afternoon.
Using a pressing attack and backed by an aggressive defense, the Spartans ended the Rams’ unbeaten start to the season with a 2-0 victory at District 20 Stadium. Senior midfielder Luis Palomera scored and had an assist to propel Doherty (5-4, 1-1 5A CSML) past its league foe.
“The team was playing really well, and when everyone’s doing that I just step up my game,” Palomera said. “We’ve been practicing (being aggressive) a lot, and it looks like it really worked out for us this game. We played some tough games, and that got us used to what we’re going to get in the league.”
Palomera broke a scoreless tie 7:14 into the game after he grabbed a ricochet from his own corner kick and blasted it past Rams senior goalie Kyle Alford. Rampart (6-1-1, 1-1-0) had ample scoring chances in the first half, but Spartans freshman goalie Ryan Moldenhauer was unflappable in net.
Moldenhauer made a leaping block of a Tristan Bailey free kick from the 35-yard line that was curling just under the crossbar, then saved another potential game-tying goal with a diving, one-handed save with 15:55 on the clock. The Rams also squandered a trio of corner kicks around the 11:30 mark because of Moldenhauer and the Spartans’ defense.
Connor Smith took a choice touch pass from Palomera and found the left corner of the net with just 13.1 seconds remaining in the half to give Doherty an insurance goal. That would be more than enough for Moldenhauer, who made a number of other top-shelf saves early in the second half and was bailed out by teammate Andrew Gaillombardo, who kicked away a shot that had gotten behind him with 1:23 left in the game.
“I’m very happy with their performance,” Doherty coach Jon Shub said of his Spartans. “We were a little better in the first half, but still did some good things in the second half and put together a full 80 (minutes). Ryan is very good, and we’re very lucky to have him. He’s one of the top goalkeepers in the area.
“Our boys are really fired up because this is the first time we’ve beaten Rampart in more than five years.”
It was a disappointing afternoon for Rampart coach Tony Gonzalez-Padron and his squad.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score goals, but we couldn’t finish,” Gonzalez-Padron said. “We’re a young team and have a lot of games ahead of us. I told the guys, ‘Let’s look ahead, and there are more games to come. What will you learn from this game?’”