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Prep soccer: Magic runs out

Surprise Hart team bows out in quarterfinals of the playoffs

Posted: February 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hart senior Andrew Trejo, right, battles for control of the ball with Fontana defender Omar Vazquez (17) in front of Fontana’s Jhovany Morales during a CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinal game Friday at Hart High School.

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If the season for Hart boys soccer could be summed up in one game, Friday's contest would have been a good one to watch.

The Indians kept the offensive pressure on, played with intensity to the final whistle and mounted a comeback in the second half after falling behind.

There was one difference, though.

In the past, Hart won these types of games.

In the CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinal game, the Indians couldn't overcome a three-goal halftime deficit, losing 3-2 to Fontana High at Hart High.

Two days after becoming the school's first boys soccer squad to advance to the final eight of the playoffs since the 1983 team, the Indians fell one goal short of making all-time program history by reaching a semifinal.

"We never gave up and we've had the experience of coming back from a deficit of three or four goals," said Hart senior Uriel Rodriguez. "I thought today we could have, but we were one goal short."

Two previous times this season, Hart (15-6-4) had fallen behind 3-0 before rallying back to tie it.

On Friday, as sophomore Niko Ferrero lobbed in Hart's second goal of the game over the head of Fontana goalkeeper Angel Ramirez during stoppage time, it once again seemed possible.

One more corner kick or one more deep throw-in could have resulted in the game-tying goal, but time ran out in the game.

And it ran out on the 2010-11 season.

"I told the boys, ‘I always knew they had some magic,' just today, they kind of ran out of magic," said Hart head coach Fausto Arana.

In the first seven minutes of the game, Fontana (16-5-0), which won the Citrus Belt League and beat the division's No. 2 seed Katella in the second round, was the team with the magic touch.

It scored the first two goals of the game during that stretch, and both came as the result of Fontana stealing the ball away while Hart was on the attack.

In the fourth minute, Steelers midfielder Paulo Fonseca got a hold of the ball around midfield and had one Hart defender to beat. Fonseca made the accurate pass to Michael Cano, who converted with his left foot from 15 yards out.

Three minutes later, the Steelers again found themselves knocking on the door with the Indians' defense out of position.

This time, Jonathan Madrid, who had 14 goals on the season coming in, one-timed a cross from Carlos Cruz from inside the 6-yard box to put Fontana up 2-0.

"I don't know that much about (Hart)," said Fontana head coach Jeremiah Marquez. "We like to make sure, when we get the opportunity, we really like to take advantage of it early."

A stunned Hart team immediately went back on the attack, actually finishing the half with just as many shots on goal as the Steelers - five.

The Indians held an 8-7 shots-on-goal advantage by the end of the game, but Fontana was the more opportunistic team.

That became especially evident with fewer than three minutes left in the first half, when Fonseca scored Fontana's third goal after beating Hart goalkeeper Ryan Oakey in a footrace.

As the ball slowly rolled toward Oakey, Fonseca slid to nudge the ball by, and it trickled into the net, and the Steelers led 3-0 at halftime.

"When you get to this level, you can't let them have that," Arana said. "You can't make a mistake because they capitalized really quick."

The Indians continued to put together solid looks at the goal as the second half wore on, but didn't break through until Gabe Robinson pushed it in from the right side of the 6-yard box after receiving a cross from Andrew Trejo.

Fontana committed to playing defense in the second half. Other than a few chances for Hart, the plan worked.

"We've kind of been just sitting back, holding teams, defending our butts off, holding it by just a short thread," Marquez said. "That's usually not our type of soccer, but the last few games, and especially in CIF playoffs, that's kind of how we've been getting by."

Up to this point, so had the Indians, but the mistakes were too much to overcome.

"I wanted to go farther," Rodriguez said. "I think this team had the ability to go farther than this quarterfinal."

Maybe so, but this team had already gone as far as any before them.

"After you get into the playoffs, every loss is going to be hard," Arana said. "The more you advance, it's even harder, but the boys handled themselves really good."

 

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