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STEVEN GEORGES, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
After blocking Santiago's final penalty kick, Garden Grove goalkeeper Jose Vega celebrates winning the Division 5 title Friday with his teammates.

Vega stars as Garden Grove claims Div. 5 title

STAFF WRITER

DOWNEY – For Jose Vega, it’s the eyes that tell the story. They are the first thing the Garden Grove sophomore goalkeeper looks at when an opponent lines up to take a penalty.

By studying the eyes, Vega said he believes he can tell exactly where the shot will be directed.

“He is a good goalie, the best I have ever seen,” Garden Grove coach Matt Grenert said. “I am glad he is wearing Argonaut red.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that he is going to stop a ball.”

He did better than that Friday, and Garden Grove is the CIF-SS Division 5 champion because of it. After Garden Grove and Santiago played to a scoreless tie, Vega stopped two of the Cavaliers’ shots to deliver a 3-2 triumph in penalty kicks.

“My teammates said they knew I would block two or three. They know I am good at it,” Vega said. “We practiced this whole week, mostly on PKs. There is just something in me that makes me good at it. It is my best thing.”

This is the second season in a row a Garden Grove League team has won a CIF-SS trophy. The Cavaliers did it last year by beating Chino in the Division 5 final.

“Credit to Santiago,” Grenert said. “This is the worst way to lose. That’s a good team. It was just our turn. It was their turn last year.

“We are both young teams, so I am sure we will see them again.”

The top-seeded Cavaliers (19-4-2) couldn’t have been surprised by Vega’s performance. There aren’t many secrets between the two teams.

It was the third meeting of the season for the Garden Grove League rivals. Santiago beat the Argonauts (14-7-4) once and tied them in their other match on the way to winning the league championship.

“We didn’t know everything about them though,” Santiago coach Sean Redmond said. “They got a new player from the academy at the end of the season.”

Redmond was talking about Johvanni Garcia, who was playing against the Cavaliers for the first time this season. Grenert said that when Garcia entered the team’s lineup near the end of league play, he had a huge impact on the Argonauts, making them feel almost invincible at times.

Garcia came within inches of scoring in the 74th minute. His 30-yard free kick smashed off the inside of the far post and rolled toward the right side of the goal, which was open. Jesus Vargas dived and knocked the ball away for the Cavaliers.

Santiago has three players that rank in the top 15 in the county for goals – Ramon Yepez, Julio Garcia and Israel Celis – but the Cavaliers weren’t able to mount much of a threat.

“It is very disappointing,” Redmond said. “It is the worst way to lose. But we only had two starters come back (this season), and we worked so hard to get here. I am so proud of them.”

Contact the writer: ddottore@ocregister.com


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