GALT — One of the perks of this year’s Galt High boys soccer team is depth.
That was evident in the Sierra Valley Conference opener against an improved El Dorado squad on Erv Hatzenbuhler Field at Warrior Stadium on Thursday. Galt, the defending conference champion, posted a 3-0 win over the Cougars.
Galt (10-1-1, 1-0 in the SVC) scored its first goal in the 22nd minute of the game when sophomore forward Enrique Hernandez used his head at the south end of the field, inside the box and past an El Dorado defender, sending the ball into the center of the net.
Ten minutes later, the Warriors increased their lead to 2-0 when midfielder Ethan Reece, coming off the sideline, also used his head for a goal.
“Ethan is really fun to watch,” said Galt assistant coach Dane White of Reece, a senior who has been the place-kicker on the Galt High football team the last three seasons and plays on the Galt High baseball team. “He never skipped a beat from last season to this one. He’s just as good, if not better, than when we ended last season. He’s got a lot of fight. He works real hard for the ball.”
El Dorado (9-1-4, 0-1 SVC) had no shots on goal in the first 40 minutes of the game. Galt, which uses almost every player on its 24-player roster, forced the Cougars, anytime they got near the Warriors’ net, to boot the ball out of play or a Galt player intercepted a pass intended for an El Dorado player.
In the 59th minute of the game, Galt midfielder Eduardo Garcia punched in for the final goal of the game. At the north end of the field, Garcia ran straight ahead with the soccer ball in front of him but surrounded by two El Dorado players. Garcia wasn’t fazed, and picked up speed, then lined his shot into the middle of the net to make it 3-0.
“We started to get into a groove,” White said. “Right now, we still have some guys who are still rotating, which is hard to develop some chemistry. We’re finally tipping over now that we’re hitting league where you can plug in a guy into any spot. Our offense is starting to get smarter about getting light on offense and creating chances. We’re noticing that when you can draw the defense away, they can knock the ball and put into the back of the net.”
The only shot on goal El Dorado had was in the 70th minute. Aiden Beck, from 20 yards out, lined a shot at the south end of the field. But Galt goalie Daniel Maravilla saw the line drive, put his hands in front of his face, the ball hit his hands and he watched the soccer ball hit the ground. Maravilla scooped up the ball and booted it back into play for both teams.
White commended the Warriors’ back line, with defenders German Ramirez and Abraham Romero, that helped keep the Cougars scoreless. Thursday’s score was different than in recent years, where Galt had beaten El Dorado by six or more goals in each SVC game.
“They are coming along,” said White of El Dorado coach Steve Beck and his players. “I have to give their coach and their boys some props. They are starting to play really well.”
Now an assistant coach after he and head coach Alfredo Renteria shared co-head coaching duties in recent years, White knows that there is a target on their team’s back in terms of repeating as conference champions. But that is a challenge Galt likes in its quest to win another title and earn a higher seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“I think we’re trying to hit this with discipline,” White said. “Every single game, we’ve got to play like it’s our last important game. The league championship is our goal right now. We know that every game matters.”
Nine of Galt’s 12 games this season have been played at Warrior Stadium. Galt is undefeated in all of those home games.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.