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Red Devils use home field 'advantage' to early season success Phillip Brents | Thu, Jan 12 2012 12:02 AM

Bulldozers and landscaping graters were originally supposed to be refurbishing the football/soccer field at Sweetwater High School’s Gail Devers Stadium about this time. But cancellation of contracts by the Sweetwater Union High School District and a rethinking of plans have forced a delay and a reboot in the bidding process.

In the meantime, the eyesore of the school’s athletic field remains intact and it’s something the SuHi boys soccer team has learned to live with — and win with.

The Red Devils improved to 5-0 this season on the ugly, lumpy pitch by recording a 1-0 upset victory against the visiting Southwest Raiders on Wednesday. The win raised Sweetwater’s record to 3-0 in South Bay League play and 7-4 overall.

Southwest, which captured the season opening Coronado tournament with a 1-0 victory against defending Division I state champion San Clemente, fell to 0-1 in its league opener.

Red Devil supporters watching from the sideline called it a “great win” for the team this season.

“We’ve done well overall this season but we had a hard time playing in a tough tournament in Oceanside over the winter break,” SuHi coach Jose Flores said. “Our boys have learned how to win on this field. We have players with a lot of heart and desire who play the whole game with intensity.”

Red Devil coach Hiram Villafana echoed those comments. “We want to win the league title but it’s up to how our guys perform on the field. If we can duplicate the type of game we played today (against Southwest), then I think we can go far toward reaching that goal.”

Martin Pino scored on a direct free kick taken from 10 yards outside the box midway through the first half.

The Raiders controlled much of the territorial play thereafter but were stymied by Sweetwater goalkeepers Tomas Martinez (seven saves in the first half) and Ricardo Hernandez (10 saves in the second half).

The Devils managed eight shots in the game.

Pino leads the team in scoring with seven goals. Angel Lopez ranks second with five.

Hernandez has allowed just two goals in 385 minutes of play for a solid 0.42 goalkeeping average.

Sweetwater puts its league leading record on the line Friday at Castle Park in a 3 p.m. contest. The Trojans (3-8 overall) defeated host Chula Vista, 3-0, in Wednesday’s league opener to improve to 1-0 in league play.

Miguel Lopez, Alejandro Rodriguez and Jesus Macias each scored single goals for Castle Park while goalkeeper Erwin Campos received credit for the shutout victory.

The Devils kicked off league play with a 3-0 victory against visiting Montgomery on Jan. 4 as Lopez scored twice and Pino scored once. Sweetwater then captured a 3-1 victory at Mar Vista last Friday on the strength of single goals by Lopez, Pino and Carlos Hernandez.

The Red Devils’ overall record is impacted in a negative way by a 0-3 showing at the Southern California Classic over the winter break, with 3-1 setbacks to San Marcos and Calexico and a 1-0 loss to Montgomery.

Sweetwater is 1-1 on the season with both San Marcos and Montgomery. The Devils kicked off the 2011-12 season with a 3-1 non-league victory at Mt. Miguel on Nov. 29 and followed that up with a 1-0 win against visiting San Marcos on Dec. 2.

SuHi’s other victories so far have come against visiting Eastlake (3-0 on Dec. 8) and visiting Hoover (4-1 on Jan. 2).

Thus far, the Devils’ home field disadvantage is proving anything but that.


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