Wonders defeat Seahorses

Talk about taking matters into your own hands. Nevada Wonders coach Paul Aigbogun not only gave his team a game plan, he went out and executed.

After the Wonders struggled offensively last week in a 2-0 loss in its season opener against the Orange County Blue Stars, Aigbogun got the Wonders going early with a long ball that Rafa Leora took and scored in the first minute of the game.

The Wonders scored two goals in the first 10 minutes on their way to take a 3-0 lead in the first half and held on for a 3-2 win over the Southern California Seahorses in soccer on Friday at Carson High.

The Wonders evened their record to 1-1 and equaled their win total for all of last year in their first season. The win also gave the Wonders much needed momentum going into today's 7 p.m. rematch with the Blue Stars, one of the Premiere Development League's top teams, at Carson High.

After also allowing two goals on defensive mistakes early against Orange County, the Wonders changed their alignment for the Seahorses. They used four defenders and five midfielders and had Leora as the only striker up front.

The alignment worked beautifully as the Wonders scored three goals - two by Leora and one by Chris Blackburn -- all on long balls. Leora also assisted on Blackburn's goal.

"In the last game we allowed two easy goals early," said Aigbogun, who played the first half as a defender. "Sometimes you get lucky. Everything went to plan exactly the way we worked."

Aigbogun's long pass set up Leora for his breakaway and Leora scored to give the Wonders a 1-0 lead.

"He gave me a great ball," Leora said. "Basically during the week we practiced with just one striker.

"Last week we gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

The Wonders later dodged a bullet when they made a defensive mistake as one of their defenders tried to clear the ball from the left side, but ended up centering the ball for the Seahorses. Goalie Carlos Rengifo, who had his second straight outstanding game with 11 saves, made a diving save to stop the threat.

Minutes later, Leora sent a ball forward and Blackburn beat the goalie for the ball to make it 2-0. With 10 minutes left in the first half, Rengifo sent a long ball down the field and Leora beat the goalie again to make it 3-0.

"Basically we just tried to pick our opportunities," Leora said. "Basically just try to pick and choose when to go, when not to go."

The Seahorses closed to within 3-1 at halftime when they scored on a header off of a free kick. The Wonders' best chance in the second half came when Landon Roser had a chance to score on a header.

With 12 minutes left, the Seahorses made it 3-2 on a header that was deflected into the goal. For the last 15 minutes, including three minutes of injury time, the Wonders withstood the Seahorses' pressure. Rengifo made another diving save with about five minutes left to preserve the win.

It looks like that Aigbogun will have to play tonight as many of the Division I players that the Wonders have signed will not be available. Meanwhile, Orange County could be even stronger with its Division I players, which could include players from top national programs like UCLA.

"Obviously they're going to have a strong team," Aigbogun said. "We needed to get a win, going into the game tomorrow."

Contact Charles Whisnand at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.

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