By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer
DOWNEY – El Rancho High School has once again reached the summit after a one-year absence.
Miguel Vilchis, Jaime Moreno and Agustin Hernandez each scored a goal that lifted the Dons to a 3-2 victory over Channel Islands in Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 boys soccer championship game at Warren High School.
The triumph marks the second CIF-SS divisional title in three years for Del Rio League champion El Rancho (26-2-1).
“We’re really happy for our kids,” El Rancho coach Dominic Picon said. “It may not have been the best game we played but we were pretty gritty. Channel Islands gave us a good fight.”
Luis Juarez recorded both goals for Channel Islands (15-7-5), which was an at-large entry from the Pacific View League.
It was Hernandez who ended up scoring the difference-making goal.
After Juarez’s first goal reduced El Rancho’s lead to 2-1 in the 47th minute, Hernandez restored the Dons’ two-goal advantage by scoring on a header in the 66th minute.
Vilchis set up the opportunity by making a pass to Hernandez, who was standing in front of the Raiders’ net.
Juarez, however, gave Channel Islands hope when he scored his second goal in the 76th minute.
Juarez’s goal came on a long-range attempt that stunned the El Rancho defense.
That’s as close as the Raiders would get, however, as the Dons defense did not allow another shot on goal.
“It’s amazing,” Hernandez said of the Dons’ win. “I could not have done it without my partners. It was a great pass – I just had to finish it.
“It was hard during league. During the game, we got it together. We overcame the hard things because we played good as a team.”
“That’s good to see a goal like that from somebody who plays about 15 minutes a game,” Picon said of Hernandez. “He was ready to perform when called upon. That’s what we ask from all of our guys.”
Vilchis started the game’s scoring when he put the ball past Raiders goaltender Salvador Perez during the 23rd minute. Vilchis’ goal gave El Rancho a 1-0 halftime lead.
The Dons went right back to work after the intermission as Moreno gave the Dons a 2-0 lead when he scored in the 43rd minute.
“It feels amazing,” Vilchis said. “Words cannot explain how I feel. When we first came here (two years ago), it was a great feeling. Last year, it was bittersweet after we lost to Crescenta Valley. This year, we knew we wanted to come back. We knew we had to play hard. We played hard and it paid off in a championship.”
Senior forward Cristian Roldan, who led El Rancho with 53 goals this season, added, “It’s unbelievable because it’s my last year. I wanted to go out the way I started. I had to play a little bit of defense (on Saturday). Being in a finals game with a score of 3-2 is unbelievable.
“It was a long, tough season. It feels so good to win, especially in the final. You can call it a great season when you’re able to win.”