The Rangers are second in WYL standings after five games under new head coach
VISALIA – Six years ago, El Diamante lost 2-1 in the Division II Valley Championship game. Their leading goal scorer that season was Joey Chica, who is now in his first season as head varsity coach at Redwood. Last Tuesday, in his first game against his alma mater, Chica and the Rangers defeated the Miners 6-2 as they improved to a 4-1 record in the WYL.
The game was tied at one after the first twenty minutes, before several goals were traded in the last few minutes of the first half. It began with a set play led by Redwood junior Ernesto Pacheco who knocked in a shot from over 20 yards out to put his team up 2-1. Shortly after, they were a bit too aggressive on defense which led to an El Diamante score on penalty kick. Moments later, Redwood earned a penalty kick of their own as senior Jose Rosales faked out the goalie to put the Rangers up 3-2.
After going up 1-0 early in the match, the Miners entered halftime trailing by one goal. They’ve given up the first goal in most of their games, so head coach Agustin Gonzalez was hoping his team could take advantage of the early lead.
“We’re not used to going up early, so I was hoping the momentum would help us out,” Gonzalez said. “We kind of just started settling down instead of keeping the pressure up and playing the way we’re supposed to.”
Redwood went into the break with momentum and kept it heading into the second half. Within the first few seconds, sophomore Will Kennedy scored off a deflection in the box to put his team ahead 4-2. Minutes later, Rosales scored his second goal on a penalty kick. Junior James Richardson ended the game with his first goal of the season in the final seconds of the match, as the Rangers went on to win 6-2.
Chica spent the last two years coaching at El Diamante and considered it a special win to defeat his old team. Going from varsity player to varsity head coach in a few years has been a learning curve for Chica, but has led Redwood to a strong start to the season.
They came into league play with a 3-5-1 record. They battled against some tough teams early on which prepared them for a tough WYL. They lost 3-0 in their first game against Golden West, who currently sits in first place. They won their next three games against Hanford, El Diamante, and Mt. Whitney by a combined score of 13-2, with two shutouts.