Alfaro’s 50-yard free kick in 2nd OT puts Dons in semis

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – With a berth in the Final Four on the line, bodies were flying all over the field and some times slamming into each other during Santa Barbara’s Division 1 quarterfinal boys soccer game at JSerra on Friday.

Senior center back Tony Alfaro ended the slam-bam contest, scoring a golden goal in the second overtime period to put the Dons in Tuesday’s semifinals. With just seconds away from a penalty-kick shootout, he hit a free kick from 50 yards that floated over a scrum of players and the goalkeeper  for a 2-1 victory.

The Dons will host West Torrance, a 2-1 winner over Loyola.

“We told him to over hit that ball,” Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said of Alfaro’s free kick.  “He usually under hits it, but with that ball we wanted to make sure he got it there.”

Heil described the play as “pretty chaotic.”

After it was over, forward Alfredo Ibarra stayed down on the ground. Paramedics were called and he was taken to the hospital.

“Basically, he went up for the ball and the goalkeeper went up and put his knee in Freddy’s back and his fist in the back of his head,” Heil described. “There’s no concussion. They took him to the hospital for precautionary reasons, just to make sure.”

The goal came with the Dons down a man. Forward Ryan Richardson made contact with JSerra goalkeeper Kyle Pierce going after a ball earlier in the overtime and the referee pulled out the red card.

Earlier in the game, Pierce and a Santa Barbara player collided, and Pierce suffered a bloodied nose and had to leave the game.

The Dons (19-5-3) capitalized. On a free kick, the backup goalkeeper mishandled the ball and Ibarra pounced on the loose ball and scored for a 1-0 lead.

JSerra (15-6-3), the No. 3 team from the Trinity League, stepped up its pressure in the second half.

“We withstood it until there was less than 30 seconds left in regulation,” said Heil.

Kenneth Hendren headed in Dylan Seedman’s cross to  knot the score at 1-1.

The game appeared to be headed to a penalty-kick shootout until Alfaro delivered his playoff magic.

“With 10 players, we were  looking to go to PKs,” Heil said. “We were looking not to get stretched defensively. We  got a fortunate free kick and made the most of it.”

Heil said Alfaro and his three other senior captains, Sanford Spivey, Tyler Schleich and Spencer Pritchard, have been tremendous in the playoffs.

“They just will us to get to the next round,” he said.

After back-to-back wins in Orange County, the defending Division 2 champions come home for a chance to reach their second straight final.

“We’re banged up and tired, but we’re excited,” said Heil.