Coming off a close loss to rival — and nationally ranked — Jesuit on Saturday, the Davis High boys soccer team needed a spark to regain its momentum.
The Blue Devils got the fire they needed on Tuesday, using another solid performance to top Elk Grove, 3-0, in a Delta Valley Conference game at Yudin Field.
With the win, which feature a huge effort from senior Rami Rashmawi, DHS (10-4-3) finished the first half of its DVC schedule with a strong 4-0-1 mark.
The Devils came out fast, taking a lead right out of the gates. In the eighth minute, Davis won a free kick about 25 yards out. The Thundering Herd (1-5-3, 0-3-2) cleared the ball but it went right to the feet of Davis senior Brian Birt, who beat the two defenders on his back with a slick scoop turn.
Birt then crossed the ball to forward Joe Rainer, who blasted a header past the helpless keeper to make the score 1-0.
Throughout the rest of the first half, the locals were able to pepper the Elk Grove goalie with shots, but no more got through.
Just before the break, DHS midfielder Ken Hashimoto played a lofted ball over the top of the Herd defense to forward Raunak Manandhar, who found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but he couldn’t quite put the chance away. That left the score at 1-0 heading into intermission.
“We need to improve our finishing,” said Blue Devil head coach Alex Park. “(We need to) make sure that we put balls away early. We don’t want to drag (the game) out late.”
Davis started fast again in the second half, with Manandhar curling a shot that nearly went in after taking a wicked hop off of the dirt.
The Devils continued to create chances as the period wore on, including one in the 66th minute when Birt hit a volley over the goal after the Herd keeper misplayed a well-placed set piece from Alexander Nelson.
Just 10 minutes later, the locals broke through for their second goal of the afternoon. Nelson took a free kick from about 35 yards out, and dropped a dime of a pass into no-man’s land: the area between the goalkeeper and the defense.
Rashmawi, who had been threatening on offense the entire game, rushed through the Elk Grove back line and slammed a header past the unsuspecting goalkeeper to put the game out of reach.
And Rashmawi wasn’t done making big plays for DHS …
The Herd came right back on the ensuing kickoff, playing a lofted ball to the back post that just cleared the outstretched hands of Blue Devil goalie Andres Olmedo. Rashmawi was exactly where he needed to be, however, blocking the would-be goal with his hip before Nelson cleared the ball away from danger.
In the waning moments of the game, Rashmawi showed off his individual skills by beating three Elk Grove defenders on the dribble. Rashmawi completed the play with a screaming left-footed shot that ended the scoring.
“The last two games, Rami has played well,” Park said. “He played well in the Jesuit game and he repeated himself (Tuesday). He’s an amazing player coming from the back on the right side, and he did a really good job.”
Davis gets into the second half of its DVC schedule on Thursday with a match at Franklin (3:30 p.m.). The Devils defeated the Wildcats, 3-0, at home earlier this season, but after that game Park warned that the rematch would be a much tougher assignment.
Notes: DHS junior D.J. Villegas sat out Tuesday’s game, nursing a sore hip that he injured on Saturday. Forward Alex McIntyre also left Tuesday’s contest with an ankle injury. …The Blue Devils outshot the Herd 17-1.
— Reach Thomas Oide at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterThomas