Sunny Hills strikes first, seizes spot in Div. 2 final


FULLERTON – It is played on the biggest fields you can find, but playoff soccer often comes down to the tightest of margins.

Sunny Hills earned the early edge with Herminio Padilla’s penalty kick goal, and the Lancers held on to defeat Santa Ana, 1-0, in a CIF-SS Division 2 boys soccer semifinal at Sunny Hills High on Tuesday.

“It was a battle,” Sunny Hills coach Mike Schade said. “It’s always hard when you’re winning 1-0 in the CIF semifinals. They’re going to put a lot of pressure on you late in the game. Our boys were able to withstand that.”

Sunny Hills (20-3-4) will play Long Beach Jordan in the final. The date, time and location of the championship match will be announced by the CIF-SS on Wednesday.

The Lancers got the lead early after earning a penalty kick, and Padilla stepped up to the spot.

“I knew it was going to be a decisive part of the game,” Padilla said “So I just had to go up and hit the ball confident in the back of the net. “

Padilla drilled the ball for the 1-0 lead.

Santa Ana (16-5-4) got a penalty attempt shortly after, but didn’t convert.

Neither team could find any space to create as the teams played close into the second half.

“We knew it was going to be a tight field,” Santa Ana coach Joe Penaflor said. “It was whoever could get to the ball first.”

Santa Ana got the ball late and sent some dangerous balls through the box. The Saints’ most promising chance came in the 69th minute.

Mario Paz directed a near-perfect header across the net, but Sunny Hills keeper Daniel Martinez sprung to his right and reached out to get a palm on the ball and keep the slate clean.

“Daniel stepped up today,” Schade said. “When it’s late like that and they’re putting everybody forward, keeper’s up in the middle of the field, it’s tough.”

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