Jose Ruiz always seems to find a scoring chance for Murray County High School’s boys soccer team — even if he trips and falls into the opportunity.
Ruiz hit the ground twice inside Morris Innovative’s goalie box Tuesday, earning two penalty kicks and converting both as the Indians won 2-0 to remain undefeated through four matches, all against Region 7-2A competition.
The senior has 14 goals this season, and this was the first match this year in which Ruiz didn’t have at least three goals. He earned his first penalty shot at the 32nd minute after a Morris Innovative defender’s slide tackle from behind drew the referee’s whistle.
“The first half was terrible for us,” Murray County coach Marco Burgueno said. “It was like they were asleep.”
Murray County had numerous chances to better its 1-0 lead early in the second half, but Oscar Reyes made four big saves to keep Morris Innovative (3-3, 3-3) in the game.
Ruiz’s breakaway was deflected at the 43rd minute, Victor Bautista’s shot at the 50th minute was blocked, Ruiz’s shot in the 53rd minute was deflected and Bautista again tried in the 55th minute with a shot, but was turned back again.
“The second half was better,” Burgueno said. “We just couldn’t put the goal in.”
Ruiz made it 2-0 when he earned a second penalty kick at the 69th minute. Ruiz dribbled down the right side and into the goalie box when another tackle caused him to hit the ground, although Morris Innovative contested whether Ruiz was fouled or went down from a clean tackle.
“It sucks to see a game decided by penalty shots like that,” Morris Innovative coach Ernie Dempsey said. “My one defender made one mistake with the first penalty and the second penalty was a terrible call.”
Morris Innovative’s best chance to draw even against the No. 4-ranked team in eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 2A poll came in the 64th minute. Jonathan Herrera’s shot was saved by Murray County goalkeeper Roberto Zuniga.
“We had a few good shots at the end, one that could’ve equalized,” Dempsey said, adding that he was extremely pleased with his team keeping pace with the Indians aside from the two penalty kicks.
“Our school is about putting kids in a position where they can shine, putting them in an opportunity where they can seize the chance and make the most of it. That’s what Morris is about. That’s what I try to do as a coach. I try to maximize their efforts.”
Murray County took 11 shots on goal, while Morris Innovative had four. Reyes made seven saves.
• Murray County girls 7, Morris Innovative 1: Morgan Devitt recorded a hat trick and Vivian Gamboa and Sandra Ramirez each added two goals for the Lady Indians (2-2, 2-2 Region 7-2A), who led 3-1 at halftime in the home win.
Murray County keeper Halen Thomas recorded three saves.
Berenice Hernandez scored the lone goal for the Lady Tigers (0-6, 0-6) in the first minute of the game. Morris Innovative coach Irene Quintero said the team played with “more confidence” against Murray County and “a lot more aggressive.”
• Coahulla Creek boys 11, Adairsville 1: The Colts remained undefeated through six matches overall and four in Region 5-3A play, scoring nine goals in the second half to clinch a mercy-rule win 12 minutes before the end of regulation time.
“We got our act together,” Coahulla Creek coach Eric Parker said of the difference between the second half and first half, which his Colts ended with a 2-1 lead.
Pedro Garcia scored three times — he has 13 goals this season — and added four assists. Eddie Serrato scored once and assisted four other goals, Manny Morales had a goal and an assist. Jo-An Barcenas, Wilbert Escobedo, Sadoth Fraire, Baley Jones, Junior Villareal and Alex Vivar each scored once. Martin Garcia and Adrian Rodriguez each had one assist.
“We weren’t clicking in the first half but turned it around,” Parker said, noting his team outshot Adairsville 30-3.
• Adairsville girls 2, Coahulla Creek 0: The Lady Colts fell to 2-4, 1-3 in region play with the home loss.
• Dalton boys 10, LaFayette 0: It only took 34 minutes of game time for the top-ranked Cats to secure a mercy-rule win at Harmon Field.
Justen Macias, Javier Rodriguez and Manny Solis each had two goals, while Jesus Huitanda, Eder Mora, Gibby Perez and Cristian Saldana each scored once for Dalton. Assists came from Huitanda, Macias, Mora, Kobe Perez and Kiko Rodriguez.
The Cats (4-0, 2-0 Sub-region 7B-4A) outshot the Ramblers 24-1.
• Dalton girls 2, LaFayette 0: A pair of second-half goals lifted the Lady Cats at home as they picked up their first league win of the season.
An assist from Deanna Marquez set up Alondra Salaises in the 56th minute as she booted the ball past LaFayette’s out-of-position keeper. Dalton (3-1-1, 1-1 Sub-region 7B-4A) got an insurance goal later in the half as Maria Medina found the net from 25 yards out on a direct kick.
Dalton outshot the Lady Ramblers 18-4, with Lady Cats keeper Alex Brumbelow recording three saves.
• North Murray girls 1, Gordon Central 1 (3-2 in penalty kicks): Lady Mountaineers goalie Amber Bandy had a pair of saves during the penalty kick portion of the match and then connected on her penalty kick to help North Murray (1-2, 1-2 Region 5-3A) to the home win.
Jessica Rangel had a goal off an assist from Victoria Jacobo to give North Murray a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half. In penalty kicks, Jacobo and Veronica Miranda also connected for the Lady Mountaineers, who had 13 shots on goal.
Bandy finished with seven saves in goal.
• North Murray boys 3, Gordon Central 0: The Mountaineers (3-0, 3-0 Region 5-3A) kept all of the scoring in the family with Neto Rodriguez hitting a pair of goals and brother Raul netting the other. Victor Iturbero added an assist for North Murray, which led 2-0 at the end of the first half.
• Northwest Whitfield boys 7, Cass 0: Miguel Villa tallied a hat trick for the Bruins (2-1), while Adrian Mariscal added a goal and an assist.
David Franco, David Paz and Bryan Villa each scored once, while Andrew Bravo and Edward Infante each assisted one score for the Bruins, who led 4-0 at halftime.
• Northwest Whitfield girls 4, Cass 1: Cynthia Coronel scored twice and Ashlee Huynh had a goal and a pair of assists to lead the Lady Bruins (5-0) to the non-league win in Tunnel Hill.
Vanessa Lara added a goal and an assist, while Nancy Paz also had an assist. Cass’ lone score was an own goal by Northwest, which outshot the Lady Colonels 25-5, and Lady Bruins coach Melissa Torbett said defender Yamileks Vaca and keeper Gracie Holmes both played well.
Northwest led 2-1 at halftime.
• Southeast Whitfield boys 4, Heritage-Catoosa 0: Victor Garcia had a pair of goals and Ronaldo Sandate had two assists as the Raiders won the Sub-region 7B-4A meeting at home.
David Gonzalez and Jonathan Sanchez each scored once, while Ivan Ortiz recorded the shutout in goal. Garcia and Axl Arredondo each had an assist for Southeast (4-0, 3-0).
• Heritage-Catoosa girls 3, Southeast 0: The Lady Raiders (1-3, 0-3 Sub-region 7B-4A) trailed 1-0 at the end of the first half and failed to capitalize on any offensive opportunities.
• Christian Heritage School’s boys and girls matches at North Cobb Christian were postponed, but will be made up at 5 p.m. today. The boys will follow the girls match.