“We knew this was the year we would finally get them. Look at their sideline, they’re all quiet. Every time we play them they’re always loud. Look at them now, they’re in shock.” — South El Monte’s Mario Burciaga after scoring the game-winning goal in the Eagles’ 2-1 win.
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
South El Monte boys soccer coach Nelson Rodriguez was dripping wet following the Eagles’ 2-1 win over host Mountain View that left the Eagles in sole possession of first place in the Mission Valley League.
Nelson was chased down by his players, who dumped a bucket of water over his head after snapping the Vikings’ 37-game league unbeaten streak — a feel-good moment after finally knocking off the three-time defending league champs.
In all three years, South El Monte finished second.
“We won a big game, but we didn’t win the league title,” Rodriguez said. “This will feel better if we can do it again in the last game of the season at our place. But you know what, our guys are excited and they have a right to be.”
The Eagles (7-2-1, 5-0), ranked ninth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 poll, beat the sixth-ranked Vikings (7-4-4, 4-1) on a 69th minute goal by Mario Burciaga at the back post.
It started on a long throw-in to the middle of the penalty area. Raul Almanza back-headed it perfectly to Burciaga, who rifled it out of the air with a swinging right foot for the game winner.
“It was amazing, we worked on that play all day in practice, and this is where it pays off, in the game,” Burciaga said. (To continue click thread).
Burciaga then looked over at the dejected Vikings, explaining that it was their turn to feel the pain.
“We knew this was the year we would finally get them,” Burciaga said. “Look at their sideline, they’re all quiet. Every time we play them they’re always loud. Look at them now, they’re in shock.”
Mountain View took the early lead on Carlos Zarate’s long pass into space for Pablo Tellez, who dribbled into the box and finished at the near post for a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
The Eagles tied it on a 35-yard shot from Javier Machuca that caught Vikings goalkeeper Christian Bucio off guard in the 15th minute.
Although the Vikings hit the crossbar twice in the second half, the Eagles clearly outhustled and outplayed the Vikings over 80 minutes, something Vikings coach Felipe Corona agreed with.
“We told our guys to look at that moment, look at how they’re celebrating on our field,” Corona said. “We’ve knocked this team out the last few years so this was building. They’ve been hunting us for a while.
“And today, they deserved it. They were hungrier, they wanted it more and this is what happens when you don’t match that effort. Give them credit, hopefully we get them back at their place.”
Rodriguez felt especially proud because this is not the most talented team he’s had. In fact, the Eagles won without junior William Raygoza, who opted not to play this season so he could compete on the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Youth Academy team.
When Raygoza was a freshman, he shared league most valauble player honors.
“This is the unlikely group,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve had good teams before but the chemistry wasn’t there. But this group of kids is different, especially in the sense they don’t want to be pushed around by anybody. The mentality is different, we started to control ourselves first, and that’s reflective on the field.”