By Steve Breazeale
DANA POINT– With the cold, chilling wind sweeping in and across their home field the Dana Hills boys soccer team battled not only the elements, but a fast paced Laguna Hills squad on January 14, coming away with a 3-0 Sea View League victory.
The Dolphins (6-5, 2-1 league) struggled to find a rhythm in the first half of play. Not only were they failing to string together short passes, the long cross-field balls they were launching into the air were heavily affected by the winds gusting in off the ocean. Both Dolphin head coach Leo Compean and standout midfielder Israel Reyes cited the winds contributing to the Dolphins lack of control in the first half.
Laguna Hills (8-7-2, 0-2), who was playing with the wind in the opening half, seemed up to the task. The Hawks controlled the ball in their offensive third for most of the opening 15 minutes, and nearly took the lead in the 14th minute after their short and accurate passes broke down the Dolphin back line, leaving a wide open net. The ensuing shot went sailing wide.
Dana Hills got some breathing room when Reyes scored his first of two goals in the 23rd minute. A through ball from senior midfielder Mason Palmer found Reyes sprinting behind the Hawks defense, after which the senior calmly pulled off a pivot move to beat the Laguna Hills keeper, putting the Dolphins up 1-0.
After switching to the opposite side of the field in the second half (and playing with the wind) the Dolphin offense took off.
Reyes struck again in the seventh minute on a sequence that started with a long ball from junior defender Eemon Arami to junior forward Jake Allen, who took the ball down the line. Allen dribbled down field, drawing multiple Hawk defenders, and waited to make his pass to the unmarked Reyes, who was wide open in the middle of the box and had no problem finishing to make it 2-0.
“We were not ready to play (in the first half). We were the better team tactically but we didn’t play. But at halftime they felt inspired to start doing their job,” Compean said. “Especially with the wind, the long ball passes are not our game plan and (Laguna Hills) took it to us. We had to settle down…We started to play through (Reyes) and (Palmer) in the middle and we finally figured it out.”
The Dolphin defense also clamped down in the second half and limited the Hawks to just one shot on target in the final 40 minutes.
Sophomore Paul Romero, who Compean says is the fastest player in the Sea View League, scored the Dolphins third and final goal in the 26th minute to put the game away.
The Dolphins will take the pitch again on January 18 against Trabuco Hills in a league match. After dropping a game to first-place El Toro on January 11, the Dolphins know how important each game is from here on out.
“We want to go in and win every other game now,” Reyes said. “I don’t plan on losing any home games and every away game from now on should be pretty easy.”