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Southwest Raiders boys soccer team bounces back with big win over Hilltop Lancers Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 31 2014 02:40 PM

The Southwest High School boys soccer team is currently battling the St. Augustine Saints for the best winning percentage among the San Diego Section’s Division I teams. The Raiders’ impressive 4-0 non-league victory at Hilltop on Wednesday evening pushed the South San Diego team’s record on the season to 10-2-3 — nearly identical in terms of winning percentage to the Saints’ mark of 12-3-2.

The Raiders own a .767 winning percentage to the Saints' .765 winning percentage.

In the last six years, Southwest has finished among the section’s elite teams, advancing to the championship round twice (2008-09) along with two semifinal appearances (2011-12 and last season).

The Raiders appear to be knocking on the door again — or is that preparing to kick it down?

“After we won the Coronado tournament at the beginning of the season, I think we started thinking about which tournament we were going to win next,” Southwest coach Giovanni Medina explained. “Right now, we just want to take it one game at a time.”

The win over the Lancers was well received by Medina after the Raiders had dropped a 5-0 non-league match at Chula Vista the previous Friday.

In the game against the host Spartans, Southwest received a red card in the early moments of the second half and had to play the remainder of the game a man short.

“It was the first time we had received a red card this year, and I think it kind of unsettled our team a bit, as we weren’t used to playing a man short,” Medina said. “We had beaten them (the Spartans) earlier at the Coronado tournament, but with them playing at home and energized by their fans, they were the better team.”

The Raiders were the better team on Wednesday against Hilltop (7-9-1). Rafael Espinoza scored two goals, Jerry Mendoza added one goal and one assist, Dario Baeza scored once and Bernardo Leyva, David Chavarin and Gabriel Alamillo each tacked on assists to power the Southwest offense.

“It was a very tough game, we were leading only 1-0 at halftime,” Medina said. “We needed this. We needed to win and get a good win. Our defense played great — just like it had been at the beginning of the season.”

Espinoza entered the match with nine goals and five assists in 13 game appearances to lead Southwest in scoring. The shutout was the fourth of the season for goalkeepers Marco Beltran and Rene Venegas.

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