In Van Horn’s game against Ruskin last Thursday, Mario Rojo’s left leg was too powerful.
Each time he took a corner kick for the Falcon soccer squad, the ball seemed to sail too far past the goal for his teammates to get a shot near the goal.
Head coach Jesus Rodriguez shouted to Rojo, asking that he not kick the ball so hard.
“I’m really not kicking it that hard coach,” Rojo shouted back.
That same powerful leg came up big for the Falcons Monday against crosstown rival Truman. In overtime, Rojo had a direct free kick from 50 yards out. He sent a booming shot that landed in front of the left post of the Patriot goal. Angel DeAvila, Van Horn’s sophomore all-state midfielder who was moved from the midfield to forward in overtime, was able to nudge a shot past goalkeeper Josh Cruz to help his team capture a 2-1 win over the host Patriots and remain undefeated at 11-0.
“I told the guys that this game isn’t going into double overtime,” said Rodriguez, whose team has played six games in as many days. “I told the guys they couldn’t stop and they have to be warriors even if they may be tired.
“I moved DeAvila up top again. That’s something I like to do. He’s got a good pace and has a good shot and it worked. That was a perfect (free kick) and it gave our guys an opportunity to finish. Abe (Abraham Collin) missed the header, but Angel was there to put it in.”
An elated DeAvila raced along the left sideline pumping his fists. After the game, he and his teammates gathered in a circle, arms around each other and started jumping up and shouting in jubilation.
“I had so much adrenaline and it was exciting,” DeAvila said of his game-winner. “I felt the confidence from our team. We beat the team we weren’t able to beat last year. We lost to them twice. It felt really good.”
The game-winner came after Van Horn struggled to get quality shots against a Truman defense that kept stealing the ball or clearing it any time it came to its third of the field. Although Van Horn was outshot 12-9 (tied 7-7 on goal), it found ways to score.
Before DeAvila’s winner, Van Horn took the lead in the second half when DeAvila was shoved in the back inside the penalty box, awarding the Falcons a penalty kick.
Julio Rios took the shot and perfectly placed it under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute.
“I was afraid to miss the penalty kick because that was to win,” Rios said. “Luckily, I was able to make it. This game was hard and we did what we had to do.”
Rodriguez said he has been trying different players to take penalty kicks, as the last three either missed or were denied by the goalkeeper lately. He may have found his guy to take those shots going forward.
“Those are tough shots to block because the keep expects a mid shot or low shot,” Rodriguez said. “I always tell my guys to go high or hard low. You don’t want to kick it in mid air because those are the easiest to block.
“He told me he wanted to kick the penalty shot. Before the tournament, my best PK kicker (Luis Mejia) missed and Favian Valenzuela missed. And Mario took one and was a bit shaky. Julio is a big part of our success.”
Although the Patriots only scored one goal, they can’t say they didn’t have any chances. In the first half Mason Adrales had a couple of open shots in the penalty box, but one was smothered by diving Van Horn goalkeeper Daniel Orozco and the other was a slow roller that was easily stopped.
Truman midfielder Andre Guzman juked a pair of defenders inside the box in the second, but his shot went wide right. And sophomore midfielder Jose Calderon found himself one-on-one with Orozco on a breakaway attempt only to see his shot sail just over the crossbar.
Truman’s lone goal came in the 75th minute when Andrew Ramirez had a shot deflect off a Falcon defender and Korby Ring was able to put in the rebound to tie it.
“It’s always hard when you can’t convert those chances,” said Truman coach Manny Tovar, whose team fell to 6-2 overall and saw its six-game winning streak halted. “We weren’t able to keep the ball like we did in previous games, so we have to make sure to finish our chances.”
Although his team didn’t possess the ball as much as he would have liked, Tovar was pleased with his defense that was missing senior back Keaton Wiley because of injury.
“We had to change our lineup because two of our starters were unable to play tonight,” Tovar said. “We had to put guys in different spots. Not the game you want to do that in, but at least it was non-conference.
“I throughout our outside backs were a little shaky, but I thought Nate Hedrick and Isaac Ruiz did a good job back there.”
Van Horn’s defense was saved on a couple of occasions by Orozco, who made a couple of diving saves that kept the game scoreless for the first 65 minutes. After the game, a college coach spoke to the junior after seeing his impressive performance.
“He’s averaging 0.5 goals (allowed) a game,” Rodriguez said of Orozco. “He’s No. 1 in the state right now. It’s his work rate. He works hard. He was blocking everything. When the (college) coach saw that he said, ‘Oh, my God.’ That recruiter is not going to be the last one to watch him.”