Just as in hockey, a soccer team can ride a hot goalkeeper to victory. Thankfully, Crossroads had junior Dylan Ochoa guarding the net in a non-league home match against Inglewood’s Animo Leadership School on Thursday night.
The Crossroads Roadrunners (4-2) built up a two-goal lead just after halftime against Animo, but it took a monster effort by Ochoa for the rest of the second half to preserve a 2-1 victory for the home team.
Ochoa made three crucial saves in the final five minutes that prevented Animo (0-3) from scoring an equalizer after the visitors cut the Roadrunners’ lead in half in the game’s sixtieth minute.
“This is his first time playing varsity, but he is an amazing talent,” Crossroads Head Coach Federico Bianchi said of Ochoa’s late-game heroics and overall performance against Animo.
Those late game heroics came well after Crossroads earned their two goals. The first goal came in the sixth minute, when junior defender/midfielder Jordan Fier scored on a free kick.
Animo had an opportunity to tie the game on a penalty kick a few minutes later, but Ochoa made a spectacular save that preserved Crossroads’ 1-0 advantage heading into the break.
Then, Crossroads took a 2-0 lead four minutes into second half when junior midfielder Ali Marinez’s header redirected a throw-in by freshman forward Lucas Kirby into the net.
The two-goal advantage lasted until the sixtieth minute, when Andre Cervantes snuck the ball past Ochoa on a broken play to cut the Crossroads' lead to 2-1.
Animo maintained momentum the rest of the way, winning almost every ball and rarely allowing the Roadrunners offense to cross midfield.
Even more, Animo had as many as seven scoring opportunities in the final 15 minutes, including three shots on goal that were spectacularly saved by the athletic Ochoa.
“In the first half, we matched them well. We both played a good style of soccer,” Bianchi said. “The second half, when we were up 2-0, we panicked a little bit. We felt a lot of their pressure. Because of the panic, we weren’t able to keep the ball as much.”
For Animo, the 2011-2012 season, though young, has been all about being so close yet so far.
“This hasn't been our season so far,” Animo Head Coach Sergio Medrano said. “A lot of games, we just can’t put it away. In soccer, you have to shoot with conviction. Right now, we are not shooting with conviction.”
Crossroads returns to the soccer field for a road match against Beverly Hills on Dec. 13, followed by a home contest versus Los Angeles Milken on Dec. 15.
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