TEMECULA Great Oak High’s Devon Woodside was determined to make an impact in his return to the pitch for the first time since suffering a back injury early this season.
And he did just that.
Woodside scored midway through the first half Wednesday to help Great Oak to a 2-1 victory over cross-town rival Chaparral.
The win was important for Great Oak (8-0-1, 3-0-0), as it pushed the Wolfpack into sole possession of first place in the Southwestern League
“This league is probably going to come down to us and Chaparral, so to get a win over them in a first meeting is huge,” Woodside said. “We look forward to these games every year because they are always very competitive.”
The Wolfpack negotiated an early offensive onslaught from the Pumas, who prior to Wednesday’s contest had outscored league opponents 8-0. They ended up taking an early lead with Woodside’s score.
The senior gained control of a well-placed through ball by Dallin Gilbert deep in the box and blasted a shot into the goal.
“I saw open net and played the touch to the right of the keeper,” Woodside said. “It felt great to be able to celebrate a goal in my first game back.”
Great Oak got what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 51st minute when the elusive Ariel Lassiter broke past the last defender and slid a first touch past the keeper.
Great Oak coach Adam Skumawitz said a tough nonleague schedule played a role in his team’s success.
“We set up our preseason with tough contests so that when we come into a game like this, we’re not surprised,” Skumawitz said. “This group is consistently finding ways to win these close games, and I’m proud of that.”
The lone goal for Chaparral (10-7-1, 2-1-0) came when Nicholas Phouttahavong scored from outside the box off the post and into the net.
The goal was scored just a minute after Lassiter’s and set up an exciting finish that saw Chaparral create several scoring chances.
“We were unable to finish our opportunities today,” Chaparral coach Omar Benjoud said. “The season is still long, though. We are going to get another shot at Great Oak and we will be ready for them.”