Defense helps Santa Ana Valley advance to semifinals
SANTA ANA - For the last 20 minutes, the Knight High of Palmdale boys soccer team threw everything it could at Santa Ana Valley, looking for a potential tying goal.
However, thanks to some heady defending, the Falcons (17-7-2) were the ones moving ahead to the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals, defeating the third-seeded Hawks, 2-1, at Centennial Park on Thursday afternoon.
“After they scored, the pressure that they (Knight) brought was pretty intense,” Valley coach Jose Sanchez said. “I’m not sure if the wind had something to do with it, but it was a fast-paced tempo game.
"I told my kids don’t foul, we can’t give them any free kicks because they’re bigger than us and they were going to be pretty good up top with corner kicks and free kicks, so we tried to stay away from that as much as possible.”
Santa Ana Valley will next face second-seeded Paramount in the semifinals Tuesday.
The Hawks’ best scoring opportunity came in the 82nd minute as Kirk Mancia’s free kick went in the direction of 6-foot-2 Alexis Soto. Before Soto, who was at the near post, could get a head on the ball, Valley goalkeeper Dennis Hernadez punched the ball away.
“They (Knight) did a good job of keeping the pressure,” Sanchez said. “They pushed up a third forward, which made it tougher.”
Santa Ana Valley took a 2-0 lead in the 51st minute when Carlos Munoz slotted home a perfect pass from the wing from Jorge Herrera. It was all started by Alberto Camberos playing the ball out of the back to Herrera. Camberos’ pass flew over the Knight defender that was with Herrera, allowing him to set up the goal.
“I saw him (Munoz) wide open,” Herrera said. “Before I got the ball, I saw him in the middle. Since he has speed, if I give him a 50/50 ball, I was pretty sure he was going to get it.”
The Hawks (23-3-2) made the score 2-1 when Soto headed home a free kick in the 61st minute.
The Falcons opened the scoring in the 26th minute on Armando Flores goal. The ball bounced off of a Herrera free kick, allowing Lopez to get past the defender and beat the goalkeeper.
Paramount defeated Oxnard, 4-0 in another quarterfinal Thursday.
The Falcons have a history with the Pirates and it is one the Falcons will be trying to erase. Paramount defeated Santa Ana Valley twice in 2010, first in the finals (2-1) and again in the Regional semifinal, 4-2, on penalty kicks.
“It feels great to be in the semifinals,” Herrera said. “We want to get revenge."