Brenes says things are looking up for team

The Rio Hondo men’s soccer team defeated Southwestern College on Sept. 16 and San Diego on Sept. 21 to improve their preseason record to 3-3-4. Freshman midfielder Andre Gomez scored his first goal of the preseason and the only goal of the match in the 1-0 win against Southwestern. The Roadrunners began the encounter as the better side, and dominated possession in the opening minutes of a game that was played in 100 degree Southern California heat. In the 15 minute, freshman forward Fernando Sanchez received the ball from a goal kick just beyond the center circle in Southwestern’s half and did well to control it off his chest.

Sanchez then spread the ball out to freshman Ronnie Munguia who played a quick one-two with sophomore Johnny Contreras. Munguia found freshman left-back Tomas Mejia by the touchline and Mejia dribbled the ball a few yards and promptly sent in a wonderful cross to the far post. Gomez ran into the area and managed to get a touch on the ball and direct it towards goal.

However, Southwestern’s goalkeeper did well to parry the initial shot. Gomez then gathered the rebound in the six-yard box and with his left foot fired a shot into the side netting of the goal to give his team the 1-0 advantage. The goal was brilliantly created by the great control from Sanchez, the intricate passing between Munguia and Contreras, the pinpoint cross into the far post from Mejia, and the desire from Gomez to give the Roadrunners the lead. “I wasn’t waiting for the ball,” said Gomez on his goal.

“I just kept on running because that’s what they tell us in practice. I chased it and I got the goal.” Head coach Orlando Brenes echoed the forwards’ determination,“Andres’ goal was well earned and am happy for him. He deserved it.” Ten minutes later, Gomez lost his marker, but failed to catch up to a wonderful cross-field pass from Contreras.

Rio Hondo kept majority of possession throughout the rest of the half and freshman Clint Suppe attempted a shot from distance that just missed the upright in the closing minutes of the first half. In the second half, Rio Hondo sophomore Gerardo Villaruel alertly headed out a dangerous cross into the penalty area as Southwestern quickly displayed their intent to attack. Minutes later, sophomore Alex Casas set up Sanchez with a superb ball off of his chest. Sanchez created space to shoot, but was denied by the opposing goalkeeper.

Later in the half, Gomez continued his fine form for the Roadrunners. First, he beat his man and got a shot off from the edge of the box that just missed the target. Then, he sent in a sizzling cross into the area that appeared too hot to handle as his teammate Alfonso Espinoza scuffed the shot. The final minutes of the match became an intense affair. Midfielder Oscar Martinez was booked and subsequently made way for Joshua Cuevas as Rio Hondo looked to add to their one-goal lead.

The Roadrunners prevailed 1-0, but failed to capitalize on some good chances as coach Brenes suggested. “Offensively, we need to be more aggressive and have more composure in front of the goal,” coach Brenes said. “We need conviction in the final third of the field. The score should of been 4-0.” Makoto Shoji helped earn Rio Hondo a clean sheet as he frequently lead the defensive line with his leadership skills, the tenacity of his play, and his composure on the ball. After a 1-1 draw against Mira Costa on Sept. 19, Rio Hondo travelled to Northern San Diego on Sept. 21 and defeated San Diego City College, 2-1. Rio Hondo outshot San Diego 19-6 with 12 of the shots coming in the first half. Victor Joya scored in the 20th minute and 10 minutes later Espinoza added another to give Rio Hondo a 2-0 lead.

Both goals were set up by Casas. In the 70th minute, Jose Portilla scored for San Diego, but it was not enough as the Roadrunners held on for the 2-1 win. The Roadrunners play Pasadena City College on Friday, Sept. 26 at 4pm at Rio Hondo College where they will conclude a stretch of five games in a span of 10 days. Although the preseason has been tough for the Roadrunners, coach Brenes believes his team has far more to offer. “Our record does not indicate the potential of this team,” the 1990 state championship coach said. “The ties should of been wins. Maybe the tide is changing in our direction.” ­ Rio Hondo begin Conference play on Oct. 14 in Rancho Cucamonga against Chaffey College.