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Fullerton Rangers begin their title defense with a win

George Castro scored two goals and both Andres Lemus and Gabriel Covarrubias scored off corner kicks as the Fullerton Rangers (CA-S) won their first preliminary game against Challenger Crew Jrs. Black (OH-S) at the 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championships, 4-0.

The Rangers recorded the same result on the first day of their 2011 National Championships campaign, and that journey ended with them hoisting the trophy. Only time will tell if the Rangers will be able to defend their title, but they are off to a good start.

"I thought it was a very good first game to get the jitters out and get us into the mode" head coach Jimmy Obleda said. "We have been here since Sunday, and the boys have been very anxious to get out there and play."

After a couple of dangerous crosses in the opening minutes didn’t find the back of the net, Castro broke the stalemate in the 26th minute by beating two defenders in the box before firing a shot near post that beat Crew’s keeper.

The Rangers added an insurance goal in the 40th minute when Ricardo Ruiz struck a corner kick that found Lemus’ head on the back post. Crew’s best opportunity of the first half came in the 29th minute, when Dominic Grida sent in a dangerous cross that was cleared over the net by a Rangers defender.

"They had some opportunities to get into a rhythm in the first half," Obleda said. "But I think we scored at the right time which settled us down."

The Rangers’ next goal came off a corner kick in the 45th minute when Amirgy Pineda connected with Covarrubias among the trees, to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead. Five minutes later, Castro scored his second goal of the match on a breakaway, in which he beat Crew’s keeper and finished for the final goal of the game. Crew’s threatened once more in the second half on a free kick, as Julian Castro fired a shot that forced Ranger’s keeper, Keith Murphy, to punch the ball over the cross bar.

"I have to give them credit. They keep the ball well, and pressure the ball well," Challenger Crew head coach Gary Gilmour said. "We didn’t stick to what we practiced. We didn’t play our game, and our lack of efficiency killed us."

Their victory puts the Rangers at the top of the Under-15 Boys division. They are currently tied with their 2011 National Championship finals opponent, Chicago Magic, at the top of their group. The Rangers will look to continue their winning ways against SAA Real Madrid Miami tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. on field six.