Above: Baldwin Park losing in heartbreaking fashion to Salesian in 2009 championship game.
By Fred J. Robledo
The inaugural Sierra Vista-Baldwin Park High School boys soccer tournament semifinals are set, and the tournament couldn’t of asked for a better match-up with Baldwin Park playing Salesian and Sierra Vista taking on Long Beach Jordan on Saturday at Sierra Vista High School.
Baldwin Park and Salesian are old friends.
When Salesian won back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Division 5 titles in 2009 and ’10, the Mustangs defeated the Braves both times along the way, beating the Braves in the finals in 2009 and the semifinals in 2010.
With Salesian moving to Division 4 in 2011, Baldwin Park took advantage and won the Division 5 crown, giving the Braves their first boys soccer title in history.
The stakes won’t be nearly as large, but Baldwin Park will meet Salesian in the tournament semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. In the other semifinal, Sierra Vista will face Long Beach Jordan at 11 a.m. The winners will meet in the championship later that night at 6 p.m., at Sierra Vista.
When Baldwin Park lost to Salesian in back-to-back years in ’09 and ’10, Baldwin Park coach Ricardo Mira complained of the disadvantage of having to compete with a private school soccer power.
Mira didn’t want to make that an issue again with the teams renewing their rivalry Saturday, and says facing Salesian in a tournament setting is more appropriate and a big challenge for his team.
“A lot of soccer people are looking forward to the game, and it’s a great game for us, they’re always a huge challenge,” Mira said. “I’m pleased with how we started the season and this tournament is good, we have some very good teams in it, and it will get bigger next year.”
Salesian advanced in group play with a 1-0 win over perennial power Mountain View and a 2-0 win over Centennial.
Baldwin Park beat Charter Oak 4-0 behind two goals from Josue Flores, then tied Long Beach Jordan 0-0. Baldwin Park won its group over Long Beach Jordan because of total goal differential.
Sierra Vista advanced in group play with a 5-1 win over Port of L.A., and 6-1 victory over Whittier Christian.
If co-hosts Baldwin Park and Sierra Vista both win their semifinal games and meet in the championship, it already will be their second meeting of the season.
The Braves beat the Dons 2-1 last week behind a pair of goals from Danny Toscano in front of packed stadium at Sierra Vista.
“That was a great game,” Mira said. “The atmosphere was really intense. Soccer’s such a big thing in Baldwin Park. There is a lot of passion on both sides.”