May 20, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Santa Ana uses strong first half effort to stymie Estancia in league showdown

Santa Ana players gather around Ozzie Becerra (No.12) after he scored the Saints’ second goal in a 3-1 win over Estancia. (Photos: OC Sports Zone, Fernando M. Donado).

Santa Ana High School’s boys soccer team capitalized on a strong offensive effort in the first half en route to a 3-1 Orange Coast League win over Estancia Friday evening at Jim Scott Stadium.

With goals from Alex Garcia, Ozzie Becerra, and Brian Mendez-Maravilla via penalty kick, Santa Ana was able to take the lead into halftime, and relied on its long ball possessions and stingy defense to seal the deal. 

Both Santa Ana (7-3-5, 3-0-1) and Estancia (3-10-1, 3-1) came into the contest undefeated in Orange Coast League play with the opportunity to take sole possession of first place.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

In the initial minutes both teams cancelled each other out in the midfield battle, and  relied on speed and long crosses, but with little action taking place inside the 18-yard boxes in the first half hour of play. The game also carried heavy physical play and chippy tackles that heated both sets of the sidelines.

It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of play that both offenses came to life. García’s strike in the 28th minute put the Saints ahead, but two minutes later the Eagles capitalized on a loose ball inside Santa Ana’s box when forward Felix Solis tapped in the equalizer.

After conceding, Santa Ana managed to add pressure on the flanks in the final minutes of the first half and that enabled crosses that put pressure on the Estancia defense. It was in one of those crosses that Becerra headed in the go-ahead goal for the Saints. A few minutes later, Mendez-Maravilla kicked a powerful penalty kick shot to the center of the net to beat the Estancia goalkeeper Ceasar Pedroza, who up until the last 10 minutes of the half had been flawless for the Eagles.

“I was proud of the team’s effort today. We had a lot of different players contribute. It was a complete team effort,” said Santa Ana Coach Joe Peñaflor. “There is still a lot of work to be done with six league games remaining. We will need to continue to improve. The victory gives us momentum to build on.”

In the second half Estancia attempted to make a run at the game, but the Santa Ana defense neutralized the attack and wrapped up the victory. 

“I thought we played well. It was a tough game. They definitely outplayed us the first half, and we were a lot more even in the second half. My boys showed a lot of resilience in the second half,” said Estancia Coach Robert Castellano.

—Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone