An inter-county preseason boys soccer match between Oak Ridge and El Dorado at the Cougars’ field led to the visiting Trojans posting a 4-0 victory Thursday.
The game served as a nice opportunity for fans to see the progress of both programs. Joe Champion is heading the Oak Ridge boys soccer after coaching boys at El Dorado last season.
“It was a nice thing, seeing some of the players and family members at El Dorado,” Champion said. “It hadn’t been too long since I’d seen them before, El Dorado always has a great level of support for its program with many people coming out to watch the game. It’s always great to see how encouraging and supportive that fan base is.”
Champion took Troy’s program position as it fell in line with the efforts of his youth programs in El Dorado Hills. The opportunity to grow a program that develops great players from a young age bodes well for the future of soccer in El Dorado County.
The same rings true for El Dorado, as the Cougars picked up former Foothill coach Tony Giles to head a program teeming with enthusiastic players.
“This year we had an incredible turnout,” Giles said. “We had 20 guys come out to try out for all of our levels. We have a great group of guys as well, they support each other, play for each other, and they all just want to play hard and get better. I feel very lucky with how passionate these guys are.”
Oak Ridge played a successful possession game that controlled momentum for the majority of both halves — working to create movement and rhythm and uncover gaps in El Dorado’s backfield.
“We set out to possess the ball with a rhythm, and keep it moving around the field at our pace,” Champion said. “And I feel that we achieved that objective. There were stagnant moments and El Dorado would elevate the game on us where I feel that we had to fight to gain control again. But I was happy with the way the boys played.”
The scoring highlight of the day went deservedly to Alex Piatak, who watched as Troy junior Benjamin Brazzel sent a cross in to Miller, who played a brilliant ball off his chest. Piatak made a sharp one-time strike on the ball before it touched grass and buried it in the net to push Oak Ridge up 3-0 in the 37th minute.
“That was just a brilliant goal,” Giles said. “You have to tip your hat to a goal like that. What I loved most about the way our guys handled it was in their determination and continued level of play. They felt they were still in it for the whole game, and to see them take a loss while playing their hearts out. It’s a blessing to have players with that kind of determination.”
Giles outlined improvements for the program, noting that the Cougars will put an effort in developing and honing their positioning and field-awareness. Even without an even spread upfield, El Dorado’s forward group were quick to threaten Troy’s net at any opportunity.
Cougar striker Gabe Hurwith and forwards Oscar Santana and Joel Garcia were able to push the ball up on feeds from midfielders Richie Armstrong, Brandon Eldridge throughout the second half – breaking Oak Ridge out of rhythm a number of times until Piatak’s second goal in the 66th minute shut the door for a Cougar comeback.