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Early-season struggles don't worry new Ivy soccer coach

Ivy High School’s soccer team has struggled in its early games against other continuation high schools in its league, but new Ivy coach Alex Rodriguez isn’t concerned about the direction his team is heading.

“We’ve really shown a lot of improvement,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really impressed with the kids.”

Ivy is one of eight continuation or alternative high schools in the league. The Vista Unified School District has two schools, Alta Vista and Murray, which participate. Valley High School is in the Escondido Union High School District, Chaparral High School in El Cajon is the Grossmont Union High School District’s continuation school, Ocean Shores High School is part of the Oceanside Unified School District, Montecito High School is the continuation school in the Ramona Unified School District, and

Twin Oaks High School is affiliated with the San Marcos Unified School District.

“We’re pretty much in every game,” Rodriguez said.

Unlike comprehensive high schools, where teams practice or play after each school day, the continuation schools typically play or practice three times each week. The 75-90 minute practices may overlap with extra-period classes, and some players must leave early to catch buses. “We don’t get a chance to practice as much as a regular school would,” Rodriguez said. “We had a good showing compared to what we could have had.”

Ivy’s first game took place Feb. 17 at Valley High School, which took a 2-1 victory at Ivy’s expense. Ivy’s Luis Avila scored the game’s first goal on a penalty kick, but Valley scored an equalizer to create a 1-1 halftime score and won the game with a second-half score. “Actually encouraged,” Rodriguez said of Ivy’s play in the season opener.

The Twin Oaks field only allowed for eight-on-eight play Feb. 19; no official score was kept although Twin Oaks put more balls into the net than Ivy. Ivy’s home opener Feb. 25 was a 3-1 loss to Ocean Shores. The games consist of 30-minute halves with intermission lasting approximately 15 minutes.

Ivy’s team consists of 16 players, and both boys and girls are on the team. “They’re very helpful working with each other,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez noted that his male players respect his female players. “They look at them as equals on the field,” he said.

KidFit USA, which is the administrator of the soccer program, also operates a karate studio in San Marcos where Rodriguez’s daughter takes lessons. The owner of KidFit was seeking a coach for Ivy. “I enjoy coaching,” Rodriguez said. “I had the time to

do it.”

In the 1990s Rodriguez had coached San Marcos High School’s junior varsity soccer team. He played soccer at Mount Vernon High School in Virginia and coached at that school after his 1990 graduation.

“It’s a really good group of kids,” Rodriguez said of the Ivy team. “Most of them haven’t played soccer before, so it’s an opportunity for them to learn the game.”

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