Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal Staff
South City’s Jerry Barajas chests down a ball during the Warriors’ 3-2 win over Hillsdale. The win puts South City atop the PAL Ocean Division.
The Hillsdale boys’ soccer team was poised to take command of the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division table when the Knights took a 2-0 lead over South City at halftime in San Mateo Tuesday afternoon.
But a Warriors’ goal in the first minute of the second half gave them new life and they completed a stunning comeback with a pair of goals in the final eight minutes to post a 3-2 victory and remain undefeated in Ocean Division play at 5-0.
The loss was the first in league play for Hillsdale (4-1).
“They stepped up in the second half,” South City coach Alejandro Escamilla said through interpreter Luis DeAlba. “Today, South City showed they can play.”
With the score tied at 2 in the waning minutes, South City was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce. Danny Basulto sent a cross toward the Hillsdale penalty box that was blocked by a Knights defender.
The ball bounced right to Angel Nevarez, however, who pounded into it the net in the 78th minute for his second goal of the game. Nevarez’s goal in the opening minute of the second half gave the Warriors the motivation they needed to complete the rally.
“In the second half, they (South City) wanted it more,” said Hillsdale coach Andy Hodzic.
The comeback would not have been possible, however, if not for one play by South City defender Jose Plascencia. Hillsdale’s Brian Lau, who scored both goals for the Knights, was looking to complete his hat trick in the 70th minute. After the South City goalkeeper blocked an initial shot, the rebound went to Lau and, with the goalkeeper on the ground, Lau sent a shot toward goal.
Plascencia, however, was backing up the play and cleared it out of danger.
Two minutes later, the Warriors tied the game. Basulto triggered the play when he chipped a ball into space at the top of the Hillsdale penalty box. Jerry Barajas came running on and, with the Hillsdale goalkeeper off his line and in no-man’s land, Barajas chipped the ball over and into the far right side of the net to knot the game at 2.
In the first 40 minutes, Hillsdale did a good job of building up its attack through the midfield, running its offense through midfielders Angel Hernandez and Nicolas Naar. Salvador Hernandez proved dangerous on the left flank, but it was Lau who found the back of the net both times for the Knights.
Hillsdale took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute on a brilliant piece of improvisation by Lau. Bryan Kuga sent a diagonal pass to the top of the South City penalty box where Lau bolted past the defense, did a spin move on top of the ball while dragging it with his toe. The move got Lau into space and he beat the stunned Warriors goalkeeper to the far left post for the score.
Lau gave Hillsdale a 2-0 lead in the 33rd minute off an assist from Arie Pisarevsky, who tapped a little through ball that found Lau, who, again, beat the goalkeeper to the left.
While Hillsdale was controlling the game with a series of one-touch passes, South City’s attack was much more direct. The Warriors did not employ a lot of ball movement, instead, taking one touch and launching long balls over the top.
It resulted in a few quality chances, but Hillsdale goalkeeper Michael Golden kept the Warriors in check.
“Bad defense, bad passes, people not concentrating,” was how Escamilla described his team’s play in the first half.
But after Escamilla got into his team at halftime, the Warriors came out a different squad in the second half. Crisp ball movement to start the second half resulted in Nevarez’s first goal for the Warriors. Two passes got the ball to Barajas and, from 35 yards out, he sent a ball over the top of the Hillsdale defense. Nevarez ran on, had a breakaway and did not miss, burying his shot in the back of the net.
Hillsdale had a chance to increase its lead a few minutes later when it was awarded a free kick from 21 yards out. But Angel Hernandez’s shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into the field of play where the South City goalkeeper grabbed it.
“It was a pretty good game,” Hodzic said.