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PK Sinks Cents

Posted: February 16, 2008 3:09 a.m.
Updated: April 18, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
MONTCLAIR - A late-game, two-man advantage was not enough for the Saugus High boys soccer team Friday, as the Centurions dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Montclair in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs.

Ironically, after the Cavaliers lost their composure in a hail of yellow and red cards to finish out the game shorthanded, they won it on a penalty kick 12 minutes into the 20-minute overtime period.

Montclair forward Jesus Mota drove the PK past Saugus goalkeeper Joseph Mackey as the Mt. Baldy League Cavaliers defeated Saugus 2-1 at Montclair High to advance to the second round against Santa Barbara.

"I think it's sad that we go for 110 minutes and that's how the game is decided," said the senior Mackey, playing in his final contest in a Centurion uniform. "I've got eight feet high and 24 feet wide to cover. All you can do is try and anticipate where he's going to go."

Mackey guessed left. Mota went right.

The kick was set up when Saugus midfielder Emanuel Padron was whistled for shoving a Montclair player inside the box after a Cavaliers free kick put the ball on the doorstep.

Mota, a senior, took a deep breath to calm himself, then put his head down and tucked the ball low into the right corner for the game-winner.

"Don't let anybody get in your head," Mota said. "Be focused on one play - that's it."

Good sportsmanship was not the focus of Montclair's play throughout, as the Cavaliers (21-5-1) were carded four times and had two players ejected.

Montclair head coach Sergio Mora said it was out of character for his team.

"We're usually very composed, but I think it was just the playoff atmosphere and a lot of pent-up emotion," Mora said.
Saugus (15-6-4) came out flat in the scoreless first half, allowing the Cavaliers to set the pace and control the midfield.

Montclair striker Abel Rodriguez just missed a goal late in the half when he rang a 25-yard free kick off the crossbar. But Rodriguez gave the Cavs a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the second half, this time driving a free kick far post and just above Mackey's outstretched arms.

"Just a good, hard shot, Mackey said. "Not much a goalie can do about it."

Four minutes later, Montclair's Alejandro Bustamante was ejected for intentionally kicking Saugus midfielder Baxter Frick, who was flat on his back after the ball went out of bounds.

That seemed to spark the Cents, who countered with repeated runs at the Cavaliers net.

Frick and teammates Erick Esquivel and Brian Cooney had shots turned aside before senior forward David Alegria connected to tie the score at 1-1 with nine minutes left in regulation.

Alegria, the team's leading scorer, notched his 12th goal of the season when he knocked home a rebound after Christopher Allen's long throw-in bounced off the mittens of Montclair keeper Jose Lopez.

Shortly thereafter, Montclair's Rodriguez, a senior co-captain, was tossed after saying something to the referee and earning his second yellow card. That forced the Cavaliers to finish out the contest down a pair of players, but Saugus could not capitalize.

The loss was in sharp contrast to last season's playoff picture, when the Centurions advanced all the way to the semifinals - the furthest of any Santa Clarita Valley boys soccer team.

Still, Saugus head coach Seth Groller praised his players for keeping their cool while the Cavaliers unraveled.

"I was very proud of how my team represented our school," Groller said. "While their team seemed to be losing their heads, we kept ours, and we played a very good game of soccer without buying into what they were doing."

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