The trip to California over winter break might not have served the Desert Vista boys soccer well as far as winning percentage goes but that’s never what the annual pilgrimage west is ever about anyway.

It’s about improving via tough competition, team bonding and putting themselves in position for a second-half run.

After a 2-0 start this week, including Thursday’s 3-1 win at Mountain Pointe, the dividends from the trip might be showing up already.

The Thunder (5-6-1, 3-2 in power rankings games) got two goals by Nick Mangialardi, the first off a first-half penalty kick and the second a thing of beauty as he dribbled up the right side while beating several Pride defenders, and another by Lorenz Delany for the win.

“This was probably our best complete game,” said Thunder coach Mike Rabasca, whose squad went 0-2-1 in California. “(The trip) always helps because we spend so much time together. Our goals tonight were more reflective of a team effort. We’ve had too much of individuals trying to put team on their back. We’ve always done better when we are working as a team.”

The Pride continued the season long trend of playing well in spurts but the downturns ended up being the difference.

Mountain Pointe (9-6, 2-2) hung with Desert Vista in the first half, but the first 20 minutes of the second half was the difference. The Pride managed to get a goal by John Abercrombie and had some other good looks in the final 20 minutes but it was too late.

“It was like we were asleep,” Riley Beiderbeck said. “We can’t continue playing that way.”

Pride coach Bryan Sabato had similar thoughts.

"It was a terrible start of the second half on our part," he said. "Their third goal was a terrific individual play. It helps when you don’t want to step in and defend and track runners. They were better than us for longer periods of time. That’s been the our problem all year long."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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