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Hart soccer loses in dramatic CIF title game

Posted: March 8, 2014 7:48 p.m.
Updated: March 8, 2014 7:48 p.m.
 

CORONA — For weeks now, the Hart girls soccer team has likened its run through the CIF-Southern Section Division II postseason to a dream.

And while the girls were finally awoken during Saturday afternoon’s championship-game 3-2 loss to Chino Hills at Corona High School, the way in which it happened seemingly defied reality.

Tied 2-2 with just over four minutes remaining, Chino Hills forward Ashley Gonzalez beat the Hart backline down the left sideline and sent a high shot to the back post where Indians defender Sarah Lindborg waited to clear the ball off the goal line.

Unfortunately, that clearance ricocheted directly off the Huskies’ Amanda Ball and into the back of the net, all but sealing Hart’s fate.

“It’s really frustrating,” said senior midfielder Kelsey Stokes. “We all worked so hard to get this far and it’s little things like that you can’t control. You have to pull your head up.”

The goal, credited to Ball, capped a frenzied final minutes; one that featured enough swings in momentum and emotion to fill a season.

Tied 0-0 with 18 minutes remaining, Chino Hills (29-2) earned a second consecutive corner kick and capitalized with a header by Gonzalez.

With momentum at their backs, Gonzalez immediately put what looked to be the dagger into the back of the net just 16:40 remaining.

“We all thought it was over,” said Chino Hills head coach Andy Plascencia. “Up 2-0 with 10 minutes left. And (Hart) responded quickly before I could make adjustments.”

With the air apparently sucked from the Hart sideline, forwards Jenny Chavez and Destinney Duron teamed to breath new life into the Indians (18-6-4).

Chavez found Duron for an easy goal with 11:36 left, and Duron came away with a second-ball header, again originally sent into the box from Chavez, to tie the score just 28 seconds later.

“We (came back) a lot of times in season, I think six of our last 10 games,” said first-year head coach Guilherme Mitrovich. “We did it again today. That shows the character and fight those girls have in them. They showed how much they are ready to fight and battle.”

The Indians continued to push the ball forward in the match’s final minutes, but Duron went down hard with just over four minutes remaining, and the Indians never found another quality opportunity down the stretch.

According to Duron, she suffered a possible concussion and was being taken to the hospital — a poor ending to an extraordinary performance on the day.

“She means a lot (to the team),” Mitrovich said. “She’s a big threat offensively for other teams. She’s proven that again today. She’s a player that will decide a game with some individual play.”

But while one dream may have ended for the Indians on Saturday, in what was their first finals appearance since finishing as co-champions in 1999, another continues.

Hart has likely done enough to earn a bid into Tuesdays’ SoCal Soccer Championship.

In Division II, there will be an eight-team bracket, with the Southern Section filling four spots.

Mitrovich said he was informed that the team’s chances of participation were very high following Tuesday’s loss.

And if they get another chance to pick themselves up and continue the dream?

“(Saturday) showed how much heart we have and passion we have for this game,” said defender Laura Sega. “I don’t think it’s going to be hard (to be ready for Tuesday) with this talented group of girls.”

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