For the first half of its match at Lakeview Academy Tuesday, Riverside Military seemed content not to press too much and take advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves.
But clinging to a 1-0 lead 20 minutes into the second half, Eagles coach Diego Vacca decided it was time to create some opportunities on their own.
The team increased the pressure on the offensive side of the ball, countering a Lakeview attack that was beginning to show some life, and scored three times in the next four minutes en route to a 4-0 win on the road.
“It was just a matter of finding some space,” Vacca said after the game. “I told them in the second half to get more aggressive. We turned up the pressure, and it pretty much gave us two goals.”
The win kept Riverside (10-1-1, 5-0) undefeated in region play, which, Vacca said, is important for its confidence the rest of the season.
“We want to feel more confident,” he said. “Our last three games are going to be tough, so we’re building for those games. We want to keep building our confidence.”
Tuesday’s game was another step in the right direction.
Sophomore Ryan Marcano, who had already scored the first goal of the game, set the tone in the 60th minute for Riverside. On a breakaway down the pitch, he outran two Lions defenders and sent a hard kick into the bottom left corner of the goal to take a 2-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Marcano found himself one-on-one with the keeper again. With a smooth hesitation, he avoided the defender and tapped the ball in for his third goal of the game.
It was his third hat trick this season.
“Ryan has played well for us,” Vacca said. “Like I said, when we turned up that pressure, we were able to get a couple of open looks on goal.”
Keeping the pressure high, Riverside had another opportunity just moments later, when Ricardo Madero dribbled between multiple defenders to give himself a clean shot on goal. He sent a hard kick to the right corner, which appeared to be on its way to the back of the net.
Lions keeper Dalton Snyder, however, had other ideas. Diving, outstretched, to his left, Snyder was able to just get a hand on it and deflect it wide of the goal.
It was his second impressive save of the day. His first came in traffic when Marcano sent a header off of a corner kick toward the goal. Snyder just tipped the ball above his head, sending it off the crossbar to hold the score at 1-0.
Madero got another opportunity seconds after his first near-miss. This time he made it count. Taking a corner kick from Marcano, Madero sent the ball into the back of the net to stretch the lead to 4-0 with 17 minutes remaining.
Not to be overlooked in the game was Riverside keeper Victor Salcido’s seventh shutout of the season. Lakeview didn’t have a lot of opportunities on goal, but Salcido, as well as the Riverside defense, stepped up when the situation called for it.
“I’m satisfied with the way we played defensively,” Vacca said. “Obviously, you’re going to have some mistakes. That’s part of the game. But you have to keep your composure, and I think we’ve done well with that.”
Lions (4-5-1, 2-3) coach Philip Chittaro said he felt like his team didn’t show up in the game. In the past, he said, when his team has gotten down, it has been able to battle back.
“I didn’t feel like we did that today, though,” he said. “We knew we could play with them. We played them earlier this year. Our defense is really strong, but we made a move to go more offensive late in the game. We got some more pressure on them, but we let them get a couple scores.
“They’re a good team.”
Lakeview hosts Georgia Military Academy Friday. Riverside, after its spring break, plays at Social Circle on April 11.