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Falcons blaze to victory
It may be early in the season, but River Valley High's Melad Rahim and Castulo Carvajal aren't shying away from setting their goals high in 2012.
The two seniors are four-year varsity performers for the Falcons and have been with the program through both the good times and the bad — from the school's first winning regular season and home playoff game in 2010, to last season's disappointing 2-6-2 finish in the Tri-County Conference.
Now, the two senior captains want nothing more than to go out with a bang, and nothing less than a playoff run will suffice.
"We have a lot of seniors, so our goal is to win the TCC and the section," Rahim said. "I've been here since I was a freshman and RV has never won the TCC.
"We have all the tools, we just need to put it together."
Those tools were certainly on display against Lindhurst on Tuesday as the Falcons scored three first-half goals while cruising to a 3-1 victory over the Blazers at Dean Miller Stadium in Olivehurst.
The play of Rahim and Carvajal at midfield set the tone for River Valley, which controlled the ball nearly the entire contest and limited the Blazers to just three shots on goal over the full 80 minutes.
One of those shots came early, however, and the Blazers took full advantage. Just 3 minutes into the match, Lindhurst's Ivan Ambrocio lined up for a free kick from 23 yards away and sent the ball around the Falcons' wall and into the net to give Lindhurst a quick 1-0 lead.
The early deficit seemed to wake up River Valley (2-0), which went on to score three quick goals to turn the game around.
Brandon Blancas scored the equalizer in the game's 12th minute before Rahim put the Falcons ahead for good with a breakaway goal 3 minutes later.
Ernesto Sanchez completed the scoring by heading in a cross from Christopher Zamora in the 21st minute.
The comfortable lead allowed RV coach Abel Franco to tinker with his lineups as every member of the Falcons saw playing time.
"I want to see what they can show," Franco said. "It's kind of a trial period for us, so I was trying people at different positions in case something happens later in the year.
"I'm just trying different systems to see if they can pick it up."
The Blazers (0-1) weren't without some strong performances of their own, most notably sophomore goalkeeper Eduardo Tinoco, who made 10 saves to keep the score respectable.
"We had good passing and good talking at the beginning, but in the second half, we did better," said first-year Lindhurst coach Daniel Padilla, who also praised the play of Edgar Rivera at sweeper. "We didn't allow a goal after haftime, so I'm proud of my boys."
It was the first varsity game on the sidelines for Padilla, who was the Blazers' JV coach before replacing Eric Hoefler, who accepted a job as vice principal at a high school in Southern California.
River Valley opened its season with a 2-1 victory over Oakmont on Friday in Roseville. Zamora and Angel Lopez scored the goals in the win.
"We're looking to take the TCC and make the most of our senior year, but it all starts at practice," Carvajal said. "That's when you become your best — when you're at practice and nobody is watching.
"As captains, we want to communicate with them and tell them what they need to work on so we can improve for the future."