Rowland’s Henry Calistro was amazing, scoring his 32nd goal in the win
“Henry is the best player I’ve seen in a long time. He should be our league MVP and do great wherever he goes. I’ll be interested to see where the future takes him, he’s tremendous.” — South Hills coach Casey Stratton
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
COVINA — The San Antonio League boys soccer race was exciting to the final whistle. After going winless the first 12 games of the season, South Hills had a chance to earn a share of the league title with a victory over Rowland on Thursday. But instead Rowland won its first league title since 1985 with a 2-1 victory at Covina District Field, which not only denied the Huskies a piece of the championship, but knocked them out of the playoffs entirely. (To continue, click thread).
Rowland’s speedy striker Henry Calistro created the first goal, then scored his his 32nd of the season to help the Raiders to a 2-0 lead, which they never surrendered to finish 16-4-4 and 5-2-1.
West Covina (4-4) finished second despite a 2-0 loss to Nogales (3-4-1) on Thursday, which was big for the Nobles, who finished in a three-way tie for third with the Huskies (3-4-1) and Walnut (3-4-1), with Nogales advancing as the third-place team to next week’s Division 3 playoffs after tiebreakers.
“It’s unfortunate (missing the playoffs) but it was fun,” South Hills coach Casey Stratton said. “For us to be in this situation after the way we started was tremendous. We didn’t get it done, but we played hard.”
The Raiders were clearly the better side, creating chance after chance with their speed.
Huskies goalkeeper Andrew Morales kept it close by saving two breakaways and another point-blank save off a header, but he couldn’t stop the Raiders forever.
Calistro’s first-half shot off the crossbar was finished by Kevin Meneses in the 24th minute for a 1-0 lead.
Then Calistro doubled it with a rocket off the roof in the 31st minute for a 2-0 lead.
The Huskies couldn’t generate anything through the run of play, scoring on a short corner kick played to the top of the penalty area for Andres Irigoyen, whose quick cross to the far post was headed home by Jorge Mandujano in the 64th minute to cut the Raiders’ lead in half.
“South Hills is big, they kept fighting but this was our night,” Raiders coach Jorge Diaz said. “We’ve been waiting 25 years for this.”
Calistro had a hard time containing his emotions too.
“It’s a dream come true,” Calistro said. “When I was a freshman, we never thought we would have a chance to win league.”
Calistro also earned an admirer in the process.
“Henry is the best player I’ve seen in a long time,” Stratton said. “He should be our league MVP and do great wherever he goes. I’ll be interested to see where the future takes him, he’s tremendous.”