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El Toro players celebrate after beating Redlands East Valley in the CIF-SS Division 1 boys soccer championship game at Corona High on Friday.

Hutchins makes sure title goes to El Toro

STAFF WRITER

CORONA – Dawson Moulder sauntered up to the ball as he prepared to take a penalty kick for Redlands East Valley after the Wildcats played to a 1-1 draw with El Toro on Friday at Corona High.

But he couldn’t fool Mac Hutchins, and even before Moulder took his shot, Hutchins had already made his move. Just as the ball was getting ready to cross the goal line, Hutchins swatted it away to deliver the CIF-SS Division 1 championship for El Toro.

He stopped REV’s first penalty kick too, and the Chargers edged the Wildcats on penalties, 4-3.

“I told him before the end of the second overtime that if we go to PKs we are winning. We have the best keeper in maybe the state,” El Toro coach Shawn Watts said. “I am so happy, but I am really proud of them.”

Jacob Urbano had a chance to end it five minutes into the second 10-minute overtime, bouncing a hard, low shot at the left post. Hutchins dived just in time to make a two-handed save.

In the the 38th minute, he couldn't stop the Wildcats. He reached up as high as he could toward the left corner of the goal in an attempt to stop Andrew Taylor’s header. But the ball took an unusual bounce off the bottom of the crossbar to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

“I told the guys we have had to battle out of it all year long,” Watts said. “I had a feeling it wasn’t going to end that way.”

The Chargers were their most dangerous when Nathan Morgan was on the field. Every time El Toro won a throw-in at REV’s end of the field, Watts subbed Morgan in so he could fire the ball into the box.

In the 67th minute, Morgan put the ball on the near post where Matt Freem was waiting to head it in and tie the score, 1-1.

Six minutes later, El Toro came within inches of taking the lead, but Rene Gonzalez made the save for the Wildcats, tipping Jonathan Bryant’s 20-yard line drive just over the cross bar.

“This is a special team,” Watts said. “They came from the bottom when no one thought that we would be here.”

El Toro had a six-game losing streak in December. But the Chargers (17-10-2) appeared to be renewed after that. They beat top-seeded Cathedral in the second round of the playoffs, and shut out Paramount, ranked ninth in the state at the time by MaxPreps, in the semifinals.

From the start Friday, the Chargers showed they were going to pose a challenge for the Wildcats (27-1-1), ranked No. 8 in the nation.

Three times in the first two minutes, Morgan launched a long throw into the 6-yard box. Two of them were cleared by the Wildcats. The other was punched away by Gonzalez.

In the 14th minute, Brandon Parsio collected a rebound in space just inside the box, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. Abad Gatica did the same thing for the Chargers in the 19th minute. Both scoring chances began with a long throw from Morgan.

The Chargers defense, which brought a plus-three goal differential into the championship match, managed to shut down Alec Hooper and Nicholas Perez, the Wildcats’ top two goal scorers, in the first half. Neither player put a shot on goal before halftime.

The Wildcats’ first scoring chance came in the 35th minute when Taylor took aim at the far post, but his header floated just past the goal. He didn’t miss with his second shot three minutes later.

Contact the writer: ddottore@scng.com


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