The boys varsity soccer team overcame both injury and youth Thursday afternoon to score a 3-1 victory in Ventura over St. Bonaventure. Missing three of their starting and experienced midfielders, the Rams opened the game with two freshmen and a sophomore in the center of the field, but you never would have known it. From the opening whistle, Cate controlled the field, with Owen Conde Ragget ’23, Seb Sutch ’24, and Ari Seal ’24 maintaining possession in the middle and harassing the Bonnies into complete disarray defensively. Coupled with incredibly strong play from Lukas Hendriks ’22 on the right flank and Shion Kato ’21 on the left, Cate kept constant pressure on St. Bonaventure on both sides of the ball. After several near misses, Cate opened the scoring in the 17th minute when striker Peter Wood ’22 blistered a shot into the upper left corner from about 20 yards out, the result of a Kato to Mason Oetgen ’22 to Wood string of passes. Minutes later, Wood rang the right post, but Cate had to settle for a 1-0 lead at the half. The second half opened in the same convincing fashion as the first, with Cate jumping all over the Bonnies and Sutch getting his head on the end of a brilliant cross from Hendriks in the 52nd minute. Two minutes later, Wood found the back of the net again when Sutch sent a split pass up the middle to Seal who attracted the last defender and laid the ball off to Wood who tucked it away for a 3-0 lead. In the 61st minute, the Rams made one of their few mistakes of the day when freshman keeper Tyler Martinez made a superb save off the crossbar that Cate was unable to clear and St. Bonaventure slotted into the lower-left corner. Despite that one lapse, the play of the starting back four of Andrew Mabon ’21, Kobby Nimako ’22, Ricky Valente ’22, and Oetgen was fantastic – organized, aggressive, and smart. The Rams outshot the Bonnies 20-3.
I couldn’t be more impressed with our play Thursday. Despite our youth and running with a short bench, we probably played 80% of the game at a furious pace defensively. On the attack, we were poised and unselfish. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a team that moves the ball so skillfully. We kept play simple and switched the field at will. Our back four remained connected to the midfield, which was crucial to our success. Valente, as our left-back, accounted for 25% of our shots on goal, which is pretty amazing. Even had we not had such a long layoff since last season, to play like this in just our second game would be noteworthy. The fact that we’ve come together so quickly speaks to incredibly strong team chemistry and work ethic. This is going to be a fun team to watch as we head into league play.