RAINER COMES UP BIG IN ROYAL WIN OVER SIMI : ROYAL 2, SIMI VALLEY 1.
Mike Rainer is more known as a right-handed fastball pitcher at Royal High School. Goalkeeping doesn't come to mind, probably because he hasn't played soccer in four years.
After Royal's 2-1 Marmonte League victory over Simi Valley on Friday, people might want to remember he can play another sport.
Simi Valley coach Rob Looyen does.
``He played big, didn't he?'' Looyen said.
The victory put the Highlanders (14-5-1, 5-2) in a first-place tie with the Pioneers (14-3-3, 4-1-2) and ended Simi Valley's unbeaten string at four matches against them.
Brandon Kay gave the Highlanders a 1-0 lead in the first half, assisted by Shaun Neff and Kendall Simmonds, who said he has orally committed to California. Ryan Meuse tied the score in the first minute of the second half, assisted by Pat Arriola.
The Pioneers played without leading goal scorer John Gonzalez, who was on a football recruiting trip to Boise State.
Just about all of Rainer's saves were crucial in keeping Royal ahead after Sean Gesell's goal gave it a 2-1 lead 10 minutes into the second half. Rainer used his 6-foot-5 frame to tip Chris Wells' shot away. Wells was trying to chip the ball over Rainer's head.
``When you command a lot of size, you should be able to control the penalty-box area,'' Looyen said.
Before that, Rainer got kicked in the head by forward Sergio Renas while stopping a breakaway.
``He kicked me in the ear. It hurt,'' he said. ``But it's the job you've got to do.''
Actually, Rainer knew the dangers of the position. Although he hadn't experienced this much action before Friday, he regularly watches soccer videos that show goalies taking hits.
``It's supposed to be the greatest shots, but it's the shots on the goalie,'' he said.