May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Godinez boys soccer team loses to Arlington 3-2 on late goal in CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals

Godinez junior midfielder David De niz is consoled by a teammate after Saturday night’s 3-2 loss in the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinal. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

A set-piece goal with three minutes to go by junior midfielder Isaac Hernández propelled Arlington to a 3-2 victory over the host Godinez Grizzlies in the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals at Santa Ana Valley Saturday night.

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Godinez dropped to 18-3-2 overall but still received an invitation to the state tournament. The Grizzlies won two of the last three CIF titles and went undefeated to win the Golden West League title this season.

“It’s tough to lose a game like this, especially given the fact that we came back after playing a pretty poor first half and being outplayed for the majority of it,” said Godinez Coach Ruben Fernández.

“At this point with the 2-2 I knew it was going to come down to a late goal. It could have been in their box, but it was in our box unfortunately, but that’s the way soccer is. Obviously they are a good team, and we played a hard game as well. The game was pretty much for anyone in the second half.”

“Anytime you concede a free kick in a dangerous spot in high school soccer it’s always dangerous. They scored all of their goals in setpieces off of throw-ins, penalty kick, and free kick. I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t defend those better, but I got to give credit to my guys they fought until the end, and it’s one of those days when things don’t go your way.”

The future also looks bright for Godinez which has just six seniors and the majority of the players returning next year.

Godinez trailed 1-0 at halftime after Arlington striker Gustavo Aguilera slotted a shot past Grizzlies’ goalkeeper Gabriel Contreras in the 15th minute of the match.

Contreras had already saved Godinez in the first instances of the game. The visitors were able to apply pressure on Godinez’ left flank where the Lions capitalized to make runs and send crosses into the penalty box, keeping the Grizzlies defense busy.

The Lions (24-2, 7-1) controlled the majority of possession in the first stanza, and limited the Grizzlies to long-range shots for the majority of the half.

Godinez’ best clear shot came in the last instances of the first half when midfielder David De niz struck the right post of visiting goalkeeper Rafael Martinez on a free kick shot from about 25 yards out.

During the halftime break Godinez Coach Rubén Fernández made adjustments which were reflected right off the bat in the second half. “In the second half we fixed a few things, and scored a beautiful goal, and the penalty came right away. We were a bit unfortunate that they got the PK 5-10 minutes later and we couldn’t really settle down.”

It was in the 47th minute when the offensive pressure by the Grizzlies led to Josue Martinez diving header that left the opposing keeper with no shot of making the save for the 1-1 equalizer.

Three minutes after that, De niz was taken down inside the box which caused the game official to signal a penalty kick. Senior midfielder Eduardo Rosas later converted a left-footed shot from the spot for a goal to give Godinez a 2-1 lead.

When it seemed like the hosts were taking a control a foul inside the hosts’ 18-yard box gave the Lions the opportunity to level the game. Aguilera converted the penalty kick for the 2-2 draw, and for his second score of the game.

After the Arlington leveling goal, both teams played conservatively in hopes of capitalizing on each other’s mistakes. That error came in favor of the visitors late in the game when a Godinez midfielder gave up a foul and free kick in a favorable position for the opposition.

The set-piece play was capitalized by Hernández who took advantage of a hesitant move by the Godinez defense and tapped in the game winning goal to send the Lions to the championship game.

“Obviously we had the lead. I thought we were going to hold on and win, but unfortunately we didn’t,” said De niz, the junior midfielder for Godinez. “It happens. It’s part of the game, and nothing we can do about it. It was a great season. Great bonds with each other. We worked hard and can’t really be mad at the team. We tried hard.”

Arlington will play host to Long Beach Cabrillo on Friday, Feb. 22. The Jaguars defeated Riverside Poly 3-1 to clinch a spot in the CIF-SS Division 2 championship game.

“This is what we expected from Godinez,” said Arlington Coach Kevin Watson. “They are a good program and very similar demographics on the way they play and their culture. Where we come from in the Ivy League; we’ve had games like these three or four times already this year and that kind of helped us prepare and deal with adversity. Got to give credit to Godinez. They gave us everything they got.

“This is great for our program and our community because this is our very first CIF final ever. I’m really proud for my boys and assistant coach and all the guys who helped us get to this point.

“That stoppage time felt like it was 20 minutes, but all the credit to the boys. They were fantastic and you can tell they wanted that extra game.”

-Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone