First-year coach Richie Ramirez looks to bring ‘fight’ to Chiefs

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake senior forward Anthony Cortez (green) chases down a pass during a scrimmage Wednesday at Lions Field.

MOSES LAKE — First-year head coach Richie Ramirez didn’t mince words when asked what he hopes to bring to the Moses Lake boys soccer program.

“Fight,” he said. “We’re trying to bring the fight back to this program.”

Moses Lake stumbled through a two-win campaign in the Columbia Basin Big Nine last year, one win awarded retroactively after an Eastmont player was discovered to have competed while ineligible.

Ramirez, a former player and assistant with the program, knows that success can be had. The Chiefs last won a district championship in 2014 before going toe-to-toe with Camas in the first round of the state tournament.

The decline was precipitous, but improvement can be just as so.

“In recent years we’ve kind of been looked at as the laughingstock of the Big 9 for a while and so we’re just trying to compete,” Ramirez said. “Be the Moses Lake school that we’ve been known to be, do something that we haven’t done in years where we actually get to the state tournament, but that all starts with a fresh program.

“Making sure these kids understand what they’re role is, what the program’s about and what we’ve got to do to get there.”

That starts on the field.

The Chiefs have an influx of new talent to go along with the upperclassmen and they are ready to compete in a deep Columbia Basin Big Nine.

“This year, more than last year, there’s definitely more urgency, that’s for sure,” midfielder Tyrell Garza said. “There’s some practices you can tell that we’ve picked up the intensity. It’s a younger team this year so we’ll see what we can do.”

Wenatchee has been the class of the league as of late.

The Panthers advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2017 and stunned Tahoma 1-0 for a state championship in 2016.

Sunnyside, Davis and Eastmont are always feisty; Eisenhower reached the district championship in 2017, but lost consecutive games to miss the state tournament.

“I think this season’s going to be a little different, a little more evened out,” Ramirez said. “I feel like the boys that we’ve got this season are tired of losing. They’re ready to win. I guess it’s the same around the league, too.”

One of the players that is ready to return to the win column with regularity is Spokane Falls Community College commit Anthony Cortez.

“He’s got a chip on his shoulder,” Ramirez said.

In addition to Cortez, Erik Shaporda and Jesus Taboada are the Chiefs’ main threats on the attack.

Moses Lake’s comeback bid begins today at Lions Field, 7 p.m., against Gonzaga Prep. More, due to snowfall, Moses Lake hosts Ferris Saturday at 1 p.m.

“I just want to leave it all out there — senior year,” Garza said. “I don’t want to have no regrets when I leave this field.

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