Soccer’s Preseason Winning Streak Ends
By Horst Noppenberger, Special to the Independent
The boys’ soccer team beat Oxford Academy 4-0 on Tuesday, Dec. 20, fueled by a hat-trick of three goals by Laguna Beach forward Joseph Rousseau.
Last week, though, the team’s pre-season unbeaten streak came to an end, losing 2-0 on Dec. 16 against Aliso Niguel High School, a top-ranked Division 1 team. Aliso Niguel came into the game with a 5-0-4 record.
In the game against Oxford, Rousseau used his speed to get behind Oxford’s defensive seam and received several well-placed passes from the mid field. However, four of his runs were called back for off sides, including one which culminated in an apparent goal. Laguna Beach mid fielder Reece Barton also had three shots on goal in the first half, which ended 0-0.
As second half action began, Rousseau found the back of the Oxford net with a blast from 18 yards. He scored again when Mike Kimball sent a well-placed pass behind the Oxford defensive line, which was received by Rousseau at full speed. His one touch shot was tipped by the goal keeper but still had enough momentum to go into the goal.
Oxford began to mount an offensive of their own, but LBHS goal keeper made a stunning diving save. Rousseau completed his hat trick by threading his way through several Oxford defenders and finding the opposite corner of the net off the outside of his foot. With moments remaining in the match, LBHS freshman forward Harrison Gregory scored his second pre-season goal, sending a shot from the top of the 18 yard box over the Oxford keeper and into the net.
The team achieved a pre-season record of 3-1-2 returning goal keeper Alec Williams and mid fielder Miguel Jaimes, both due to injuries. Both are expected to be back on the pitch when the regular season begins.
Aliso Niguel highlights
Laguna first scoring opportunity came early in the first half when defender Taylor Davidson received a well-concealed back pass from mid fielder Reece Barton. Davidson’s blast from 18 yards out just missed the mark, soaring inches over the cross bar. Moments later, LBHS goal keeper Brice Williamson made his presence known when he came out of the box to break up an Aliso Niguel offensive surge. However, Aliso Niguel scored their first goal moments later when a loose, mid-air ball just in front of the Laguna Beach net was headed just over Williamson. Aliso Niguel’s second goal came on a glancing header on a long throw just minutes before the conclusion of the first half.
The momentum began to swing in Laguna’s favor in the second half when mid-fielder Paolo Noppenberger threaded a pass through several Aliso Niguel defenders and found a sprinting Joseph Rousseau behind the defensive crease. One on one with the goalkeeper, his shot was blocked inside the six-yard box on a great play by the keeper. Laguna continued to dominate possession for most of the second half and were often within striking distance. A free kick by Barton from close to the touch line just missed connecting with a diving Taylor Davidson. Moments later, a header by Chris Tellez was just tipped by the Aliso Niguel keeper and bounced off the post.
On Monday, Dec. 19, Laguna beat Beckman 3-0. Rousseau received a well timed pass from Barton and beat two Beckman defenders to find the inside corner of the net.
In the second half, Laguna went ahead 2-0 when Barton scored his first goal by picking up a loose ball at the top of the 18 yard box and sending it past the outstretched arms of the goal keeper. Laguna put the game out of reach with a bicycle kick by Rousseau bounced off the goal post and was one-touched into the net by Chris Tellez, who came flying into the six-yard box.
Horst Noppenberger is a Laguna Beach parent.