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Katella takes care of Sunny Hills, wins North O.C. Summer League
FULLERTON – After the Katella boys soccer team had played its last match in the North Orange County Summer League, Coach Scott Mackay put an arm around Omar Pinones, the Knights goalkeeper, and told Pinones that he should never doubt himself again.
What he did in the tournament championship against host Sunny Hills was proof that Pinones could compete against the best in the Southern Section.
After the Lancers and Knights played to a 1-1 draw, Pinones stopped the first two Sunny Hills penalty kicks, including the one taken by Herminio Padilla, the Register’s boys soccer player of the year in 2015-16, sealing a 4-1 triumph in PKs against the reigning CIF-SS Division 2 champions.
It was Katella’s first appearance in the month-long tournament.
“For him to come in and come up huge after having a rough morning (in a semifinal victory against Fullerton), that was big for us,” Mackay said. “I am very proud of him. That is what good players do. They come back (from bad game).”
Pinones wasn't perfect.
Eight minutes into the championship match, the Lancers slipped a shot past Pinones when Padilla’s 20-yard free kick bounced off the far post and into the goal.
Backed by the well-organized defense that Sunny Hills usually plays, one goal is usually enough to wrap up a win.
But in the 32nd minute, the Knights took the ball down the field with precise passes until Chris Lopez, who was selected the summer league MVP, tied the score, 1-1, with his eighth goal of the tournament.
“We have been searching all summer for players to help us defend better from up top all the way back,” Sunny Hills coach Mike Schade said, “but we haven’t had the effort to the degree that we normally do it. It was not characteristic of Sunny Hills soccer.”
Sunny Hills played the Knights twice during the tournament and both times Katella came out on top. The Knights edged Sunny Hills, 1-0, in the final pool play game for both teams to finish undefeated and claim the top seed heading into the playoffs after finish.
“This was huge for us. We have been talking with the boys, and we want to get to the next level to be able to compete with the Sunny Hills and the teams like that. That is why we got in the tournament,” Mackay said. “That game could have gone either way, but we are just happy to have everything work out.”