Valley soccer shows growth in 7-4 defeat

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2018

TALLADEGA — The Valley High School soccer team played three games last weekend at a tournament in Eufaula.

Though the Rams dropped each match, they gained critical experience against tough competition.

Head coach Cullen Milner saw the results unfold on Tuesday against Talladega.  The Rams fell, 7-4, but Milner said his squad performed “tremendously better” than it has in recent weeks.

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“We actually made a lot of improvement in the tournament over the weekend, and we put it into play against Talladega,” he said. “I was extremely proud of them because we learned key parts of the game that we hadn’t really been able to put together in the past.”

Possession was one of them.

The Rams struggled to keep the ball away from opponents early in the season.

Against Talladega, Milner estimates his team maintained possession for the majority of the first and second halves.

Valley’s ball control enabled it to attempt 29 shots on goal, a significant increase from previous contests.

“We’re starting to learn how to pass the ball and progress it down the field in an offensive possession,” Milner said. “Now that we’ve got so many shots on goal, we’re going to try to make it quality shots and a little more quality touches.”

Elder Santos notched a hat trick for the Rams, who trailed 4-1 at intermission. He was assisted on all three goals by Levi Sanders. Rutilio Olea recorded Valley’s other tally, which was his first of the season.

He connected from outside the 18-yard box and was assisted by Cedric Smith.

Although Valley’s defense allowed its fair share of scoring opportunities, Milner praised the hustle of his backline.

The group included Coleman Whaley, Elijah Smith and Cedric Smith, among others. Matthew Gibson started in goal.

“We had a few mistakes, and they were able to capitalize on those mistakes,” Milner said. “But as a whole, we’ve made tremendous leaps and bounds within the past seven or eight days.”

Valley (0-7) will compete this weekend at the Dawg Pound Classic in Opelika. The Rams will face Carroll and Opelika on Friday before squaring off with Southside on Saturday. Milner said his team’s first win could be on the horizon.

“We’ve got a chance” he said.