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Sunny Hills finds an opening, grabs title in OT
DOWNEY – Moments before Sunny Hills walked back onto the field to begin overtime at Warren High, Coach Mike Schade reminded his boys soccer team about the only weakness he saw in Long Beach Jordan.
The Panthers, he told them, were having trouble defending crosses into the box because the Lancers were winning the battle in the air.
“And we are ruthless in the box,” Herminio Padilla said. “We just had to get as many balls into the box as we could (in overtime).”
It only took one for the Lancers to win the CIF-SS Division 2 championship Saturday. Less than one minute into overtime, Padilla sent a 40-yard free kick flying toward the far post.
The ball bounced off the turf and rolled through the keeper’s legs, giving Sunny Hills a 1-0 victory against Jordan, the Lancers third consecutive shutout. Padilla scored in all five of the Lancers’ playoff games.
“At the beginning of the season, we weren’t so sure we’d make it here,” Padilla said. “But we kept working harder and harder. All the work finally paid off. It’s time to celebrate.”
Schade has coached the Lancers for close to three decades and this was the first time he has ended a season holding a trophy.
“He sacrifices so much for us. I am so happy for him,” Miguel Tapia said. “It feels nice to give back.”
The game might have ended in regulation had it not been for the officials waving off one goal and a shot rolling just inches off the mark.
In the 45th minute, Tapia headed a ball just underneath the crossbar, but it didn’t count because it was ruled that Tapia was offside. In the 10th minute, Bronny Toledo’s shot from the left side of the box glanced off the front of the far post.
“I have never felt so much support from the school and the alumni,” Schade said. “How could you not win with that much support? Feeling this, I could do it everyday.
“I am just so proud of them. All I cared about was for them to get a chance and to get to this point so they could show what they could do. ”
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