BREA – Luis Gonzalez had only a second to make up his mind as he watched a line drive of a shot curling toward the near post.
Sonora's junior goalkeeper, though, said he was as calm as could be even though the championship of the Wildcat Cup was on the line.
Gonzalez had an idea where the shot was headed after reading the final move that the Brea Olinda player made before he took his penalty kick. And with one well-timed leap, Gonzalez batted the ball away.
He stopped another PK a few moments later, and Sonora beat Brea Olinda, 3-2, on penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 tie.
"This is really big for us. We have a great defense. It is going to be hard to score on us this year," Gonzalez said.
The Raiders have only given up two goals in the six games that they have played this season, posting four shutouts during that span.
Sonora coach Cory Witt has been bringing his Raiders to this tournament for 14 years. This is the first time that he has left as a champion.
"That kid (Gonzalez) is so cool. He is calm. I guarantee that his heart rate was a resting heart rate. He just doesn't get nervous," Witt said. "It is a great day to be a Raider."
It only took 30 seconds for Sonora to take the lead as Luis Marquez found some space in the box during the Raiders' first run into the final third, turned and slipped a shot just inside the near post.
Two minutes later, Gonzalez caught a Brea Olinda header right on the goal line. The Wildcats started yelling at the referee, saying that the ball went in. But it went down as one of Gonzalez's four saves.
That was as close as Brea Olinda would get to scoring until the 57th minute when Gonzalez came out to the top of the box to play the ball, giving Lance Halm plenty of room to put the equalizer in the goal.
"This team is much better than last year," Gonzalez said. "We are very quick to the ball. We have good communication now."
In the 44th minute, Jose Melendez had a chance to score the go-ahead goal for the Raiders, getting a toe on the ball as he wrestled with two Brea Olinda defenders in the box. His shot, however, slammed into the crossbar.
The Wildcats (5-0-1) had a couple of close calls, too. In a few furious minutes in the second half, they took two shots while Gonzalez was lying on his back in front of the goal. None went in. And then Oscar Martinez watched his header sail wide of Sonora's goal.