BSoc: DP makes big plays, hands Dons their first league loss

If it wanted to stay in the hunt for a Channel League boys soccer title, Dos Pueblos needed to make some big plays at first-place Santa Barbara High.

The Chargers came through after falling behind. Julio Rubio and Jessie Jimenez scored goals and Tucker Snider cleared a potential game-tying goal off the goal line to lift eighth-ranked DP to a 2-1 victory over the No. 6 Dons at Peabody Stadium.

The victory gives DP a 3-1-1 record (10 points) in league and puts it two points behind the Dons, who have 12 points with a 4-1 mark.

Jimenez scored the game-winner in the 45th minute.

“I was really proud with the way our boys battled back,” DP coach Matt York said. “We knew this was a big game for us.”

The Chargers fell behind in the fifth minute as Santa Barbara’s Pepe Barron finished a cross from Jorge Garcia Torres.

The Dons almost went up 2-0 in the 17th minute but DP goalkeeper Drew Richard game up big.

Ten minutes later, the Chargers struck for the tying goal on a nice piece of combination work. Rubio fed Manny Nwosu, who hit a square pass to Jimenez at the top of the box. Jimenez then tapped it through to Rubio for the finish.

“It was a nice team goal, and Julio is just so calm in the box — he’s unflappable,” said York. “He was able to put it past the keeper and give us the boost and confidence we needed.”

Pepe Barron created another chance for the Dons just before halftime, feeding Kyle Marcotte on a through ball. Marcotte was tripped from behind, giving the Dons a free kick from 22 yards. Reggie Gonzalez put his shot on goal but Richard was in the right spot to make the save.

Dos Pueblos came out strong in the second half, and Jimenez gave the Chargers the lead when a ball driven into the box ended up at his feet and he put it away.

“It was a long ball from our other captain, Jorge Lopez,” York said. “He played a great through ball and Jessie, as a sophomore, has worked so hard for us. He logged all the minutes in the center-mid. We ask our two center-mids to do a lot because frequently we go against teams with lots of guys there. He’d been gasping and was a little tired, but he gave a great effort, a phenomenal effort.”

In the 62nd minute, Santa Barbara’s Jumoke Hutton took a shot that looked it was headed into the net, but Snider hustled back and kicked it off the goal-line.

“I just did my job,” Snider said. “I saw the ball and nobody was around me and I just got it out of the goal box.”

Said York: “Tucker has been the captain of our defense. He’s been that emotional leader for us the whole time, so the players really feed off that energy. He’s fearless in the box and he just has a great will to win.”

Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil agreed Snider’s play was huge, but in his eyes the game came down to defensive mistakes by his side.

“That was huge but, unfortunately, it shouldn’t have come down to that,” he said. “We made two huge mistakes on defense and we were punished on both of them. The first one, we let Julio go completely free and we didn’t pick him up. The second one, we trapped the ball for them; we literally gave them the soccer ball to score a goal. I didn’t understand either one.

“What’s frustrating is defensively we weren’t up to our usual standard.”

The Dons were fine offensively, but DP’s defense and goalkeeper were sharp on this night.

Late in the match, Richard made a save on Landon Mullen, and the Chargers held on and celebrated a huge win on the road.

“To come here, this was a litmus test to see where we are,” York said. “It’s a measuring stick, because we believe. That’s the theme we’re running with this year: belief. We believe.

“We believe in each other and it paid off.”