Outshot 15-14 in its Valley Oak League opener with visiting Central Catholic, East Union was far more efficient with its opportunities Monday at Dino Cunial Field.
The Lancers made all of their attempts that were on frame and won 4-1 behind two goals from Jesus Hurtado.
“We could play better but we definitely played good enough,” EU center midfielder Giovanni Ruelas said. “We moved the ball around at a good pace and I think it’s just a little of what’s coming this season.”
Ruelas added a first-half goal that helped the Lancers (1-0 VOL, 5-1-1 overall) stake a 3-1 halftime lead. He had a straightaway look from about 25 yards out, connecting on the first touch from Daniel Gomez’s pass.
Ruelas later assisted a goal for Arturo Galvan, who was encouraged by his coaches and teammates to launch the shot before tucking it into the upper-right 90 with a 35-yard bomb.
“If no one is coming at you and you have the space, why not?” Ruelas said.
Things didn’t always come easy for upstart East Union. The Raiders (0-1, 1-3-3) actually dominated the action for a long stretch in the first half until Ruelas’ go-ahead score in the 22nd minute.
Hurtado broke the ice in the seventh minute, taking advantage after a Central Catholic defender failed to clear it out of the penalty area which led to a routine one-on-one.
Central Catholic answered just two minutes later when Kellan Ryan knocked in Robert Mejia’s corner-kick cross with a header. The Raiders nearly jumped ahead in the 11th minute, but Vincent Hernandez’s header cleared the cross bar on another corner kick. Central had seven corner-kick opportunities in all against four for East Union.
Hurtado struck again late in the first half with a skillful goal. Gomez centered a pass from the right side, and Hurtado leapt and poked it in past goalie Tommy Vaughn.
Central Catholic held an 11-7 shot advantage in the first half, but the Lancers made theirs count.
“I didn’t like the way we started, but they know how to control the ball and we have kids who can score,” East Union coach Edgar Zelaya said. “They’re pretty tough. Central Catholic isn’t an easy team. They play hard.”
The Raiders threaten to cut into the deficit five minutes into the second half, but Mejia had a clean look thwarted by East Union keeper Jose Modesto (five saves).