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Kio Arriola runs upfield

Rios’ late goal seals victory for Richmond boys’ soccer over Alameda Hornets

on January 14, 2013

The score was tied 1-1, and the Richmond High School boys’ soccer team was on the counter-attack. Kio Arriola streaked down the left side of the field, closest to the Oilers’ home crowd, with the ball at his feet. Seeing a small opening—and a cutting teammate—he flicked the ball with the outside of his foot to Jorge Alvarez, who was near the corner of the field.

Alvarez, 15 yards wide of the goal, collected the ball and turned to attack his opponents’ goal. After dribbling for a few steps, he connected on a cross to a seemingly open area with no fellow Oilers in sight. This type of attempt had not connected for the Oilers all day. Free kicks, crosses, and passes were not clicking, and his pass looked to be another scoring attempt without a goal.

But as the ball hung in the air, sophomore Roberto Rios rushed into the open space from his right defender position. Rios extended his head forward, and knocked the ball into the goal.

“Rene said whenever you see an open space at the right, just take it,” said Rios, referring to co-head coach Rene Siles. “I told myself, I am going to score this, I am going to score this. And I just kept it positive.”

After the game, Siles said was proud of Rios, his young defender who has played with the junior varsity and varsity team this season to improve his play. “I am glad for him,” Siles said. “This was a big goal.”

The Saturday afternoon match for the Richmond Oilers was a meeting with the Hornets from Alameda High School for the first time this season. Coming off an emotional win against St. Mary’s High on Thursday night, Siles noticed that his team was lacking energy on Saturday. Before the match started, while the Oiler players were conducting their pre-game keep-away drill, Siles got on his players by saying, “Wake up! Faster!”

Richmond’s lethargic play during warm-ups and early on in the game turned into a goal for Alameda. The Hornets countered an Oiler possession, and drilled a shot past the Oilers’ goalkeeper 15 minutes into the match.

The Oilers were generating scoring opportunities on offense, but their shots were not clicking; Alameda’s defenders and goalie kept clearing corner kicks, free kicks, and crosses into the box away from their goal.

Siles kept urging his players to increase their width on the field – pointing to the sidelines, signifying how wide he wanted his players to be spread out – and attacking on offense. Late in the first half, he got his wish when Eduardo Bautista tied the game. An Oiler player lofted the ball in front of the Hornets’ goal, and the junior forward used his head to direct the ball past the opposing goalkeeper.

Fifty minutes later, with the warmth and glow of the setting sun gone, Rios scored the game’s second goal, sending the players, coaches and fans into a celebration.

The Oilers, now 7-2-5 on the season, escaped with a 2-1 win.

Even though the match ended with a victory, Siles was not impressed with the overall effort. “I think we thought that that the game would be simple,” Siles said. “It wasn’t.” Referring to the Alameda players, he continued, “This is a really good team, good players, well coached, that know what they are doing and know what they want.”

The Oilers’ struggles also could have been attributed to the one-game suspension that leading scorer Erik Montes was serving for a red card penalty he received against St. Mary’s on Thursday.

“It didn’t click,” Siles said, referring to not having Montes on the field. “We don’t want to rely on just one kid, but with a kid like him we don’t have a choice. He takes over games and he is something special.”

After meeting with his team for approximately 25 minutes, Siles walked to the parking lot with his arm around Rios—the young defender who became the star of the match as he scored his first goal of the season—both of them smiling from ear to ear.

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