UPDATE: Championship schedule announced
Saturday’s CIF Championship games
Baldwin Park vs. Salesian, 11:30 a.m., at Mission Viejo High School
Mountain View vs. Silverado, 11:30 a.m., Warren High School, Downey
Above: Diego Rodriguez celebrates game-winning goal for Mountain View
After starting the afternoon watching Mountain View’s little big-man Diego Rodriguez’s dominating performance and lone goal in the second half that gave the Vikings a 1-0 victory over Viewpoint, which puts them in the championship this weekend against undefeated Silverado, I caught the overtime at Baldwin Park and let me tell you, that was the best atmosphere at a high school soccer game I’ve ever seen. I felt like I was on the sidelines at the Coliseum. Not only was their stadium nearly full, the ‘Ole, ‘Ole chants and constant screams at every touch brought chills. At least three people asked if I had ever seen anything like it on my way out. And they deserved to win after having an awful offside ruling in sudden-death take away a goal that should have given the Braves a win anyway. Baldwin park goalkeeper Freddy Salazar made three amazing penalty kick saves, and sophomore Christian Garcia finished it off, scoring the final penalty with fans filing out of the stands and celebrating with players at midfield as the Braves advanced to their first championship ever with a 2-1 win in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie. Baldwin Park will play powerful Salesian in the final. CIF will announce the dates and times on Wednesday for Mountain View and Baldwin Park. The championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at either Mission Viejo or Warren High in Downey.
Baldwin Park 1, Animo Leadership 1, BParks wins on PK’s, 2-1
Salesian 1, Righetti 0
Mountain View 1, Viewpoint 0
Silverado 2, Rosemead 1
For story on Mountain View, click thread
There was a genuine concern about Calabasas Viewpoint attacking midfielder Evan Raynr, a U.S. National team age-group pool player that was expected to give host Mountain View fits during Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division VI semifinal. Unless someone pointed him out, you would never know who Raynr was the way the Vikings’ defense smothered and frustrated him all afternoon.
But nobody is going to forget the stellar play from Vikings 5-foot-3
midfielder Diego Rodriguez, who dominated with his smooth cutting
ability, change of speeds, and his brilliant lone goal that sent the
Vikings back to the championship game for the first time since
winning it all in 2005.
After being the set-up man at central midfield in the first half,
Rodriguez moved to forward in the second half and instantly started
putting pressure on the Patriots backline, which paid off in the 52nd
Vikings midfielder Uziel Merino sent a ball into space that Rodriguez
had to work for with a defender in front of him. But somehow
Rodriguez managed to slip past him and carve a right-footed shot past
goalkeeper Hunter Prichard for the 1-0 victory, sending the more than
1,000 fans into a frenzy.
“I knew I had the speed,” Rodriguez said. “I just found the opening
and I ran and tipped it in and that was it.”
Vikings coach Felipe Corona just shook his head.
“For his size the energy level that he has is amazing,” Corona said.
“I really don’t know what drives him, he doesn’t stop. Nobody was
going to get in his way today.”
The Division’s top-ranked Vikings (20-4-4) now get a chance to take
on undefeated and second-seed Victorville Silverado (17-0-1), a 2-1
semifinal winner over Rosemead in the championship on Friday or
Saturday at either Mission Viejo or Warren High School in Downey.
CIF will release the finals schedule today, but all the Vikings could
think about on Tuesday was last year’s semifinal loss to Hesperia
that denied them a championship appearance.
With so many seniors graduating from that squad, few gave the Vikings
a chance to have this opportunity again when the season started.
“That busride back from Hesperia last year was the longest ride of
our lives,” Corona said. “People cried, and it was silent for an hour
and half. Our kids have remembered that feeling for a year and kind
of let it out today. But we’re not done, we have more work to do.”
The Vikings won despite losing midfielder Omar Rodriguez to an ankle
injury in the first half. But the Vikings backline of Freddy Centeno,
Fabian Villasenor and Enrique Miranda stepped up, limiting the
Patriots to just one dangerous opportunity.
“What you have to understand about us is we’re a family,” Rodriguez
said. “Nobody thought we would get back to the finals. It’s not one
or two people, everybody defends, and everyone attacks. You don’t get
this far without doing it as a team. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
The Vikings had enough dangerous chances to have easily won 2-0 or
3-0. Vikings striker Julio Fernandez sent two shots just over the
crossbar in the first half, and by the second half, it was only a
matter of time.
On the defensive side, Raynr couldn’t get on track with defenders
swarming him at every turn.
“Around lunchtime I told our kids who he (Raynr) was and they were
motivated to take on that challenge,” Corona said. “He’s a good
player and give them credit, they’re one of the tougher schools we
faced. It wasn’t easy, our kids were just more motivated today.”
That won’t change in the championship against Silverado.
“We have been the two top-ranked teams all year, it’s only fitting we
meet them for the title,” Corona said. “The fact they’re undefeated
is special. We would love to be the one team that knocks them off. I
can’t think of a better way to finish it.”