Prep Impressions: Dec. 3, 2013

I covered the Riverside Ramona-Riverside Poly boys varsity soccer game on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 for The Press-Enterprise and, and came away thinking it’s difficult to ask questions of coaches and teams so early in the season.

Poly (1-0-0 overall) finished its chances while Ramona did not in a game that lacked rhythm despite the Bears’ ability to counter attack.

Pretty simple.

Senior forward Uly De la Cal is dangerous, and his role is a little like that of Zlatlan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain in France’s Ligue 1. He plays a hybrid between target forward and playmaker, with the instincts of a striker. De la Cal will have to do a lot of all three for the Bears this season.

Junior keeper Jose Balverde, a call-up from JV, come on at halftime for Poly and produced two diving diving saves — one in each direction — to retain the clean sheet for the Bears, the reigning Inland Valley League champion.

Ramona coach Mike Tongg admits to finally coming to grips with a team he took over four years ago. The Rams (1-1-0) beat Hemet West Valley, 10-1, in their season opener but haven’t beat Poly in seven-plus seasons.

His goalkeeper, senior Xavier Anguiano, did a good job directing the defense until De la Cal pressed the ball through the middle near the end of the first half, passing to Sergio Gallardo, who set up Zane Harb’s tap in. Harb added another goal midway through the second half on a cross from De la Cal, and Bryan Magana scored the third — also on a cross from De la Cal — to put the game away.

Riverside Ramona coach Mike Tongg:
“it helps show us where we’re at. We’re still trying to put it together. We’re mixing in some new players with some seasoned players. We’re coming along. It’s always fun playing Poly. They’re really good. they touch the ball well. They take really good shots. Their flow of the game — from defense to offense — is solid. Their quick attack — which got us tonight — was well put together. Three goals, all from three quick turn-around attack, it was amazing. It was fun to watch. Little disappointed in how we played tonight but I have to give it to Poly. They played really well.”

Riverside Poly coach Alex Figueroa:
“We’ll take it. Today with all the off-side trapping, it was important to get the crosses in as apposed to barreling straight through and getting caught offside, and the off-the-ball movement. That’s going to be the key all year. Uly absorbs a lot of punishment. He’s a guy that plays through fouls and so when his frustration builds he starts chirping. He starts chirping but it would be nice to see a couple of early fouls called on his behalf because teams — it’s no big secret — teams are coming right after him, they’re being physical with him because he plays so fluid that the refs or often letting it go. That’s the thing we’re working on is managing that and just being smart.”

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