BSoc: Dons escape in OT, beat Newport Harbor 1-0

Santa Barbara High came through in overtime to play another day in the CIF Division 1 boys soccer playoffs.

The Dons beat a tough Newport Harbor team, 1-0, when they scored an own goal after a corner kick from Jorge Garcia Torres in the third minute over overtime.

Pepe Barron set up the corner kick. He took on a defender 1 v 1 and ripped a shot that the goalkeeper knocked away at the near post.

DIVISION 1 CIF BRACKET

On the set piece, Pepe Barron, Abraham Sierra and Holden Winship crashed the near post, with the ball skimming off Barron’s head, hitting the leg of a Newport player and going into the net.

Jubilant Santa Barbara players rushed to the center of the Peabody Stadium field and dog piled.

“We did something we weren’t doing in the first half and that’s pressuring all over the park,” Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said of the goal-scoring play. “I felt like in the first half we were sitting back. I don’t if that was nerves, I don’t if it’s because we’re young and inexperienced; that could be what it is. I felt the second half we did a much better job of pressuring, and that included set pieces. On that one, Pepe and Abraham both challenged for the ball and it went off one of their players and went in. It’s about that pressure and that intensity that we lacked in the first half.”

Barron said he told Garcia Torres where to place the ball.

“I told Jorge to hit it front post and he did what I said,” Barron explained. “I ran up and deflected it just a little bit with the top of my head. After that I have no idea who hit it. It just went in and that’s all that matters.”

The victory advances the Dons (19-5-1) to a second-round matchup at Santa Margarita on Tuesday. Santa Margarita is the No. 3 team out of the tough Trinity League. Newport Harbor, the No. 3 team from the Sunset League, finishes the season at 8-9-4.

Heil noted that Newport Harbor was a much better team than its record.

“You can look at their record and say what you want, but they played Edison twice, and they’re the No. 2-ranked team (in Division 1); they played Servite, who’s No. 4 ranked, and they tied them; they played El Toro and San Clemente,” Heil said. “So, it’s not like Newport Harbor coming here was going to be scared of us. We knew it was going to be a close game.”

The Dons took control of the match early and generated some good scoring chances. Sophomores Brandon Sanchez and Garcia Torres were dazzling in the first half. Sanchez showed great skill, flicking a ball with his left foot before unleashing a shot that went wide. He later received a well-placed cross from Garcia Torres in the box had his shot blocked.

Garcia Torres ran onto a Sanchez through ball on the left and hit a cross to Barron, but he misfired on his shot. Garcia Torres later hit a beautiful diagonal ball to an open Landon Mullen but the Dons couldn’t convert.

“It wasn’t like we weren’t creating chances,” Heil said. “It was one of those things where I hoped we weren’t going to be lamenting our misses in the first half and letting a team stick around in the game. As it gets down to the wire, you start to wonder.”

Newport found its rhythm behind a hard-working and skillful Alan Alcantara and created some dangerous chances.

The Dons thwarted the Sailors with solid play from goalkeeper Robert Soto and a clearance off the goal-line by defender Jumoke Hutton.

Soto’s biggest save of the night came in the 78th minute when he stopped a point-blank drive by Alcantara.

“Luckily he put it within in Robert’s reach,” said a relieved Heil. “He’s a good player that No. 4. He makes things happen.”

This is one of the youngest Santa Barbara teams Heil has taken into the postseason. He hopes the first-round win will ease the nerves for the next game.

“We won’t know until we step on the field next Tuesday, but we’re so young and so inexperienced we take that for granted when you look at our record,” he said. “We become victims of our own success throughout the year. We’re 18-5 and we won Channel League but we start four sophomores and we play a freshman and we bring another sophomore off the bench. Our underclassmen outnumber our upperclassmen. You look at that and you have to hope this one gets the nerves done and we’re ready for Tuesday.”

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