This time, it was Citrus’s turn to play catch-up.
The Owls (1-3-1, 0-2-0 WSC) are still searching for their first conference win as of Friday, thanks to a 3-1 loss to the relentless Oxnard Condors (3-1-1, 1-0-1 WSC). It took just over five minutes for the Condors to score the game’s opening goal, and the Owls looked disjointed and out of sync for the rest of the match.
The Condors have proven to be the deadlier bird of prey for quite some time now. The Owls’ last win over Oxnard come in Oct. 2007, and over their last 10 matchups, the Condors have a record of 8-1-1 against the Owls.
This time, sophomore forward Max Madrigal spearheaded the Condor attack, with two goals in the second half that sealed the Owls’ fate.
“I think it all just came together,” Madrigal said. “The past two games we were disappointed . . . but everyone came to play today.”
Citrus made it tough on themselves early when Condor Rene Magana nestled the ball into the side netting past keeper Greg Veron in the 6th minute on the first shot of the game. From then on out, Citrus was barely able to tread water in the triple-digit-heat.
Forward Anier Valdez lost his temper in the 12th minute and received a yellow card for dissent. In the 18th, a low cross by Ryo Takamine across the face of the goal arrived at the feet of Diego Mercado just six yards out, but the sophomore forward pushed the ball wide in what ended up being Citrus’ best chance of the day.
The Owls’ managed to withstand a barrage of shots from Oxnard toward the end of the first half, getting a bit of luck when Condor Cory Vilchis’ shot in the 32nd minute clanged off the post. Citrus midfielder Ismael Rodriguez equalized just before halftime when Valdez was brought down in the box and awarded a penalty in the 41st minute.
“I thought we had a good shot [to win] the game,” Bruce-Oliver said. “Usually when you score a goal you pick up some energy.”
“But the thing that killed us today was we kept giving up the ball. We weren’t consistent enough to connect passes and do something with it . . . you have to give [Oxnard] props though, because they kept coming at us and we couldn’t handle it.”
Though the Owls were able to contain the Condors in the first 15 minutes of the second half, Madrigal was able to break the deadlock in the 61st minute thanks to an assist from fellow sophomore Victor Magana on a well-worked counter. That goal proved to be the game-winner, with Madrigal scoring the game’s final goal on a meaningless penalty in stoppage time to complete the brace.
“In the first half we were playing well, but we were also coming to terms to the conditions. The on-field temperature was 120 degrees,” said Oxnard head coach Ross Greaney. “I think we lost some our rhythm when we subbed in and out trying to keep everyone fresh. In the second half we got a little more organized and compact. It didn’t open up for us as much in the second, but when it did, it opened up big and we were able to take advantage of that.”
Bruce-Oliver was initially upset with the result, but said he might take a different tack going forward.
“I guess I have to be a lot more positive and not get upset with [my players] so much, because the effort was fairly good,” Bruce-Oliver said. “[But] we need to find a way to do better when things aren’t going so well.”
The Owls host the Moorpark Raiders Sept. 21 at 2 p.m.