Irvine Valley's men's soccer coach Martin McGrogan didn't mess around when lining up the schedule for the 2017 season.
The Lasers, who reached the So. Cal. Regional Final for a second year in a row last season and ended up ranked seventh in the state, opened this year's campaign against a fellow playoff team from 2016.
In fact, it was a Rio Hondo squad that Irvine Valley knocked off, 3-2, to reach the regional final a year ago.
On Friday, Rio Hondo got an early goal, and although the Lasers had many opportunities in the second half to at least tie the score, Irvine Valley, fell, 1-0, at home.
"It was a tough game and a very physical game, which is what we expected," McGrogan said of the seven yellow cards (six for Rio Hondo) and numerous fouls in the contest. "I still thought we played well so I'm a bit disappointed with the result.
"We had lots and lots of chances, but didn't take enough of them or finish others."
Irvine Valley out-shot Rio Hondo, 14-3, in the second half.
Many of those shots came in the final 25 minutes.
A header by freshman forward Grant Joyce was saved by Rio Hondo keeper Jesus Rendon, freshman midfielder Kristian Sabatino had a header saved by Rendon, a curling free kick by freshman forward Eder Olivas was knocked away by Rendon and Olivas and freshman defender Mathew Davis each had shots sail over the goal.
Rio Hondo scored on its first attempt in the first half.
In the 12th minute, Moses Gutierrez blasted a shot from the left side that hit off the right post. But Christian Bernabe was there for the rebound and goal to put Rio Hondo ahead, 1-0.
It turned out that was all that the Roadrunners needed.
Rendon finished with eight saves for Rio Hondo.
Irvine Valley plays again next Friday through Sunday, competing in the Hartnell Tournament. The Lasers open with a game against Fresno City.