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For East soccer, early season is a trial by fire

By By Will Brown - WBROWN@VICAD.COM
Jan. 25, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2013 at 7:25 p.m.

Victoria East goalkeeper Ricky Stratmann lunges for a  Smithson Valley shot during the first half of Friday night's game at Memorial Stadium.

The record may be less than flattering, but Victoria East used its non-district schedule to quickly ready its underclassmen to the rigors of varsity soccer.

Friday's 5-0 loss to Smithson Valley was an education for the young team. The loss put the Titans at 2-7-1 and could have been a lot more if it weren't for junior goalkeeper Ricky Stratmann.

When does a loss like this, or the other five the Titans have suffered to talented Class 5A teams in the early going, figure to payoff?

Tuesday, said Victoria East head coach Bobby Ramos, when the Titans open District 59-4A play against Rockport-Fulton at home.

"Once we get into district, it will look a lot slower," Ramos said. "Starting Tuesday, it will pay off. It doesn't look like it, but it will pay off."

East had a pair of chances in the first 15 minutes, the best of which was Isaac Ramirez's long-range shot in the eighth minute which was parried away by Smithson Valley goalkeeper Isaac Jenkins.

From there, the Rangers' attacks were too much for the Titans' defense. East was missing starting fullbacks Ross Mantey and Jacob Lopez for Friday's game.

Dakota Pebworth scored his first of two goals in the 11th minute. East had a chance to pass back to Stratmann and didn't take it. The senior opportunistically took the ball and put it beneath the East goalie to open the scoring.

Smithson Valley dominated possession as the game wore on, pinning East in its own end and forcing Stratmann to implore, encourage and occasionally yell at his teammates to remain organized and keep their composure.

With the Titans starting two freshmen, Ramirez and Francisco Vargas, and three sophomores, Dylan Staff, Wyatt Fimbel and Matt Nino, Friday night, Ramos said his youthful team will make errors, but is hopeful the on-field lessons will help them win a second straight District 59-4A crown.

"We're going to make mistakes," Ramos said, "but considering the speed of play we've seen in January we will have a belief we can play with anyone."

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