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Liberty hands Ridgeview first boys soccer loss

Sixteen days removed from a humbling defeat, the Liberty boys soccer team got a bit of revenge against a previously unbeaten Ridgeview team.

Iker Goni and Alex Castrejon scored second-half goals and the Patriots, who came in 1-3, smothered the offense of 6-0 Ridgeview to pull off a 2-1 upset on the Wolf Pack's home field Wednesday.

The Patriots nearly took a 1-0 lead into the half, as Dylan Lynch got a clean look near the goal, only to have it batted away by keeper Adrian Sandoval.

Such a scoring opportunity wouldn't go to waste just over five minutes into the second half. After Sandoval lost his footing, a loose ball ended up at the feet of Goni, who was all alone in front of the net to push home the game's first goal.

Just under 20 minutes later, Liberty doubled its lead, as Castlejon took a perfect pass from Ryan Spink and found the back of the net.

It was a far cry from a game at Liberty on April 12, which the Wolf Pack won 4-0, though that Ridgeview team looked considerably different than the one that played Wednesday.

Due to injuries and club commitments, the team was without five players, including top two goal scorers Osvaldo Navarro and Josh Bryant.

But even short-handed, coach Phil Collignon was underwhelmed by his team's effort.

“(Liberty) showed up to play and they played hard," he said. "I think it’s a team we kind of overlooked because we’ve got Stockdale on Monday night who is also undefeated in league. We thought we’d show up and smash and Liberty did the smashing.”

Though down, his team didn't go away quietly. With 4:15 to play, Cristo Nozgaray pushed home a goal to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The Wolf Pack then nearly tied the game in the closing minutes, Ryoma Yamaguchi attacked the net for what looked to be an open header attempt. But meeting him at the point of attack was Patriot goalie Josiah Salas, who caught the ball and held it all the way to the ground after contact with Yamaguchi.

"Coach has always told me, hold onto the ball, be strong and protect yourself," Salas said. "It was honestly a huge relief to come away with the ball."

While the Wolf Pack weren't at full strength, Liberty recently regained the services of Aiden Albertali, Lynch and Grant Meadors, who missed the previous game while competing with the Patriot football team.

Though his roster is still much more depleted than he was expecting, Patriot coach Philip Arias says his team is becoming at least close to what he envisioned, and expects Wednesday's win will provide a needed confidence boost to a team that's struggled out of the gate.

“You have no idea how much this boosts our confidence and what a morale booster it is for the boys in showing that hard work will pay off,” he said.