Godinez's Jesus Vasquez stops the ball from advancing down field during a CIF Southern California Division II Regional game against Valencia on Saturday afternoon.

Godinez slips up late, regional title gets away


SANTA ANA – Defense has been the strength of the Godinez boys soccer team this season, but a lapse of concentration Saturday in the 71st minute handed the CIF Southern California Division IV Regional championship to Valencia of Valencia.

“They were just sharper than us,” Godinez coach Ruben Fernandez said. “They attacked the set pieces better than we did, and that was the difference.”

After play was stopped by the officials because of a head injury, the Vikings played a free kick to the far post where Patrick Miller was waiting alone in the box to knock in the winner and deliver a 2-1 triumph against top-seeded Godinez at the Santa Ana Sports Complex.

“We just fell asleep defensively on that a little bit,” Fernandez said.

That misstep was a rarity for the Grizzlies (22-2-4), who shut out three of their past four opponents and conceded just four goals in 15 games during a two-month span this season.

Both of the Vikings’ goals came off set pieces. In the third minute, Luis Garcia Sosa’s 40-yard free kick one hopped off the turf and inside the far post to give Valencia (23-3-4) a 1-0 lead. But the Vikings didn’t stay in front for long.

Two minutes later, Ismael Robles scored off a pass from Andy Sosa for the Grizzlies to tie the score, 1-1.

“We had a phenomenal year,” Fernandez said. “But I am not happy about the shenanigans at the end. I’d rather lose 6-0 than go away with that incident. I am not happy about it.”

Some pushing and shoving took place between the two teams while shaking hands afterward. Valencia coach Tony Scalercio chalked it up to the frustration of a team that is not used to losing.

“Those guys (Godinez) are winners, and when the whistle blew they weren’t champions,” Scalercio said. “Godinez is one of the best teams around, there is no doubt about it. You can’t take anything away from them.”

The Grizzlies had a chance to tie the score once again in the 73rd minute when Jonathan Romero took control of a rebound in the box, but his shot smashed into a pair of Valencia defenders.

Throughout the game, the Vikings did a good job of getting behind the ball whenever the Grizzlies had possession, and that prevented Godinez from getting many good looks at the goal.

The Vikings also shut down Bryan Ibarra, who ranks second in the county with 27 goals. Any time he touched the ball, Valencia swarmed him with two or three marks.

“As a player, you need to learn how to deal with that. They sit on him, and they sit deep,” Fernandez said. “It is hard for him to get any space, but he has had a great season.”

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