Godinez players show off their championship plaque after beating Santa Maria during the championship game of the CIF Southern California Division II Regional playoffs at Santa Ana Valley High Saturday, March 11, 2017 in Santa Ana. Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer

Ibarra makes sure Godinez wins regional title this time


SANTA ANA – Before the Godinez boys soccer team took the field at Santa Ana Valley High on Saturday, Coach Ruben Fernandez pulled the Grizzlies aside and reminded them that life doesn’t often give second chances, so they should take advantage of the opportunity they had.

For the second year in a row, the Grizzlies were playing for a CIF Southern California Regional championship, and it was time, Fernandez said, to “right the wrong” that happened to them on the same field last season.

But just 14 minutes into the match, it appeared the Grizzlies were headed for the same disappointment that came with their loss in last year’s championship game.

Mariano Corona scored 14 minutes into the match, drilling a 25-yard shot into the upper-left corner of the goal to give Santa Maria a lead.

But Bryan Ibarra made sure this championship sequel would have a different ending for the Grizzlies, scoring twice in the second half and providing the assist for another goal to lead Godinez to a 3-1 triumph in the Division II championship match.

“I am proud of the character they showed in the second half, getting back in the game, hanging in there, taking advantage of our chances and defending the way that we did,” Fernandez said. “This absolutely feels good.”

Ibarra finished the season with 37 goals, 11 of them came during the playoffs.

“The thing with Bryan is he is such a dominant presence. He is big and strong and fast and powerful,” Fernandez said. “He has helped this team in the last two years tremendously.”

Ibarra tied the score, 1-1, in the 42nd minute, collecting a rebound just outside the 6-yard box and lifting a shot into the top of the goal.

He set the final margin in extra time, sprinting down the field on a counter attack, leaping over a fallen Santa Maria defender on the way, and guiding a shot inside the far post.

In between those two goals, he provided the assist for Roberto Arzate, putting a long throw on Arzate’s head as he leaped in the middle of the box.

“I told the guys at halftime that we needed to sharpen up our game, win more 50-50 balls and create more chances,” Fernandez said. “This is a very special group of players. This was our year.”

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