YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Depleted Ventura Barely Gets By

Boys' soccer: Missing six starters, highly regarded Cougars struggle in 2-1 victory over Rio Mesa.


OXNARD — Despite Ventura High ranking among the top boys' soccer teams in the region, the cards were stacked against Cougar Coach Todd Tackett as he walked off the bus 30 minutes before his team's game Monday.

Taking the field with what looked like a junior varsity team, Ventura struggled without six starters, including under-19 national team member Mike Enfield, who was injured last weekend while playing with the western regional team in Florida.

However, the 30 seconds that Ventura controlled the game were good enough for a 2-1 victory over an impressive Rio Mesa squad in the season opener for both teams.

"I won't go as far as to say it was a miracle, I just don't know how we did it," Tackett said. "We got efforts out of people we usually don't get efforts out of.

"It's not that they aren't good enough. It's that they usually aren't in the position to give great efforts. We started JV guys. They made a complete group effort."

Ventura may have recorded the win, but Rio Mesa will stand a little taller knowing it outplayed one of the region's toughest squads.

The Spartans, playing without Division I college prospect Chris Schwarze, whose broken foot will keep him sidelined for at least another month, dictated play. But a combination of poor finishing and six saves by Ventura goalkeeper Ryan Axdell foiled the Spartans.

"We had so many chances. We just weren't finishing them," said Rio Mesa midfielder Chris High, whose team outshot the Cougars, 16-5. "We came out slow and it seemed like once we sped up play and started playing together, we started winning the game."

Ventura's first goal came 20 seconds into the game when forward Ian Campbell caught Spartan goalkeeper Corey Morrison off his line with a chip shot from 25 yards.

"I looked up and I saw he was out of the goal and I chipped it," Campbell said. "I was surprised it went in. I thought I didn't get enough on it."

The only other time the Cougars could create offense was when midfielder Brian Anderson headed in a corner kick from Campbell in the 33rd minute to take a 2-0 halftime lead.

Anderson, a member of the all-state team, was a non-factor because flu slowed his play.

"I knew we were missing a lot of players and we weren't going to have much offense," Tackett said. "I still feel towards the end of the game we made the plays we had to."

High scored Rio Mesa's goal when he headed in a loose ball near the goal line in the 53rd minute.

Los Angeles Times Articles