Esperanza's Brian Hai, right, runs past against Dominguez's Antonio Camacho during a first-round game in the CIF-SS boys soccer playoffs Wednesday.

Esperanza dominates, but loses wild-card game


ANAHEIM – The odds definitely seemed to be in Esperanza's favor in Wednesday’s CIF-SS Division 2 wild-card playoff game.

With five minutes to go in the second overtime period, visiting Dominguez of Compton lost its goalkeeper, Luis Reyes, to a knee injury, so his backup, Christian Gonzalez, was on the field at the start of penalty kicks.

Gonzalez ended up playing just like a starter.

He stopped three Esperanza penalty kicks after the teams played to a 1-1 tie to help  Dominguez advance into the first round of the boys soccer playoffs on PKs, 13-12.

Reyes, though, pitched in too at the end for the Dons (7-4-6), converting both of his attempts after limping onto the field.

The Aztecs (13-7-10) had plenty of chances to end the game before heading to PKs, though, as they outshot the Dons, 19-7

 “That is the beauty of the game. It is like no other sport in the world where one team can dominate and play in one team’s end and you can’t find the back of the net,” Esperanza coach Conan Hawkins said.

Here is a good example of that. In the 43rd minute, Reyes came out to punch a free kick away, but the ball glanced off his gloves and fell in the box. Reyes couldn’t get back into position as he was caught in a crowd of players, leaving Esperanza’s Jake Munivez staring at an empty net, but his shot rolled past far post.

“That is how this game went. Not to do them (Dominguez) any disservice," Hawkins said, "but in 90 out of the 100 minutes we played, we were the better team.”

It was the Dons, though, who took the lead 22 minutes into the game when Antonio Camacho lined a shot at the near post from 20 yards out. Eric Giannetti almost made a leaping save for the Aztecs, but the ball was kicked so hard it knocked his hand out of the way and hit the back of the net.

Alec Afarian evened the score in the 59th minute after he redirected a 25-yard pass from Jared Conlin inside the near post. Afarian started the season as a defender but he has played a lot of minutes as a forward, too, as he did Wednesday. He finished the season as the Aztecs’ leading goal scorer with 14.

Afarian came within a few inches of delivering a victory for Esperanza three minutes into the first overtime period, dribbling between two Dominguez defenders in the box before finding enough space to take a shot from 15 yards out. The ball, however, went over the crossbar.

“He has come on strong for us this season,” Hawkins said. “And that was a great goal for us.”

In another Division 2 game:

No. 7 Sunny Hills 1, Etiwanda 0: Mitchell Bell scored off an assist from Gerardo Arias to lead the host Lancers (10-11-1).

In Division 1:

Newport Harbor 1, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 0: Chaz Beek redirected a pass from Henry Ramirez for the visiting Sailors (13-8-4).

Laguna Hills 3, Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley 2:

Derek Perez scored two goals and Matt Rochford added a goal and an assist for the host Hawks (12-10-4).

In Division 5:

Estancia 3, Brentwood 0: Christian Gomez scored three goals and Jorge Mendoza added an assist for host Estancia (10-5-7).

In Division 7:

Tarbut V'Torah 2, Kilpatrick 0: Zev Gollis had a goal and an assist for the host Lions (14-5-1).

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