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Ochoa's heroics put El Toro in final
LAKE FOREST - Ezekiel Ochoa just wanted one more chance to make a difference. Luckily for El Toro, he got it.
After sitting out nearly an hour of game time because of cramps in both of his legs, the junior forward went back onto the field during the second overtime period of Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinal against visiting Edison.
Minutes later, Ochoa provided the winning goal, lifting the Chargers to a 2-1 triumph.
“I couldn’t walk. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get back in the game,” Ochoa said. “But I’m glad I did.”
Third-seeded El Toro (16-0-7) will face top-seeded Servite in the Division 1 final on Friday or Saturday at Downey High or Corona High.
Ochoa scored the golden goal in the 96th minute after an exchange of passes deep in the 18-yard box. When sophomore Adrian Penaloza collected the ball and played it back to Ochoa at the PK spot, Ochoa put the one-time finish into the nearside netting.
“I was wide open. I knew I had to get that in. I couldn’t believe it,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa has made the key play in three of El Toro’s last five victories. On Feb. 12, he scored the winner against San Clemente to give El Toro the South Coast League title. In a second-round playoff game against Downey on Feb. 25, he tallied the tying goal, which eventually led to a shootout victory.
“He came up to me (in overtime) and told me, ‘Coach, I got it. Let me have a chance,’ ” El Toro coach Shawn Watts said. “Just a great victory by the kids. They work so hard, but more important, they believe in each other.”
The victory advances El Toro to its first CIF-SS final since it defeated Millikan of Long Beach, 1-0, to win the Division 1 title in 2009.
The loss ended Edison’s chances of earning its first trip to a CIF-SS final since it tied Mater Dei for the Division 2 crown in 2000.
“We completely outplayed them in first half, but we didn’t capitalize more on our chances and left them in the game,” Edison coach Charlie Breneman said. “(El Toro’s) energy and scrapiness definitely changed the game in the second half.”
Edison (14-8-2) outshot El Toro, 8-0, and earned seven corner kicks to El Toro’s zero in the first half.
It’s final corner kick provided its only goal when senior Hunter Kling delivered a pass deep in the 18-yard box to senior Taylor Kane, who one-timed the ball past El Toro goalkeeper Macke Hutchins near the right post.
El Toro equalized in the 50th minute when sophomore Sam Martinez was left unmarked near the top of the 18-yard box and rocketed a 20-yard blast to the far left post after a perfect service by sophomore Elijah Amadin from the left side.
“I’m so proud of the kids,” Watts said. “To go down a goal and to have the character to come back ... words can’t describe it.”
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