Danny Basulto, right, tackles the ball away from El Camino's Sam Ortiz.
The South City boys’ soccer team may have won the battle when it beat rival and host El Camino 2-1 Thursday afternoon.
But the Colts may ultimately win the war.
El Camino came into the game atop the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division with an unbeaten record. South City, on the other hand, was in second place. The standings don’t change with the Warriors’ win, but things suddenly got a lot tighter. El Camino needs a win next Friday against Hillsdale to wrap up the division crown and earn the league’s lone automatic Central Coast Section playoff berth.
South City, however, can take solace in the fact it re-captured the rivalry trophy that goes to the winner of the two-game series between the two teams. When the final whistle blew, South City’s Alexis Olivares sprinted across the field, hopped a small fence between the field and the stands, raced up the bleachers and into the press box to grab the trophy.
It’s the first time the Warriors have captured the trophy in two years. It also means another South City, coupled with an El Camino loss would mean a co-championships between the two teams.
“This is huge,” said South City captain Danny Basulto, who scored both goals for the Warriors. “Hopefully we can get a CCS spot.”
El Camino (10-1-2 PAL Ocean) was at a slight disadvantage Thursday, playing its third game in four days. The Colts had to work hard to beat Mills Monday and Capuchino Tuesday and simply ran out of gas against a determined South City side.
“You could see (Thursday) our legs were tired. We weren’t able to recycle (defensively) after an attack,” said El Camino coach Ken Anderson. “We couldn’t get back. We had heavy legs.”
South City (9-2-2) controlled the game from the outset, putting heavy pressure on the Colts at every turn. The Warriors challenged every ball and every pass, and won a majority of the 50-50 balls. El Camino’s midfield disappeared for long periods of time, either pushing too far forward or dropping to far back defensively. All that opened space allowed the technically skilled Warriors to knock the ball around, get it out to the wings and then swing balls into box.
“We just wanted it more this time,” Basulto said. “We just had that mentality to win every 50-50 ball.”
Despite that, it was El Camino that had the first clear chance to get on the scoreboard in the third minute when Jose Ayar had the ball land at his feet inside the South City penalty. His shot, however, deflected off a Warriors defender and goalkeeper Noel Magallon made an easy save.
Midway through the 40-minute half, El Camino struck pay dirt. Geovanny Angeles made a run into the South City penalty box, unleashing a shot on which Magallon made a kick save to turn away. The ball went right to Cesar Pizzaro at the top of the box and his shot found the right corner of the net to put the Colts up 1-0.
Ten minutes later, the Warriors found the equalizer. South City forward Angel Nevarez had the ball at his feet about 30 yards from goal, in the middle of the field. He found an unmarked Basulto on the right side and after a touch to settle the ball, Basulto took a shot from about 18 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced over the goal line for the score.
Basulto said he was surprised to be all alone that close to the goal.
“I thought someone was on my back,” Basulto said, adding that was his first goal against El Camino in two years because the Colts usually man mark him with one or two defenders.
The Warriors continued the high pressure in the second half and in the 62nd minute, Basulto gave South City a 2-1 lead. Jerry Barajas received the ball near midfield and after a few touches, sent a perfect diagonal pass to the right flank. Basulto ran onto to, got a step on his defender and broke in on goal.
Basulto, an El Camino defender and the goalkeeper all converged near the top of the penalty box and all three collided, but Basulto managed to poke the ball past both El Camino players and into the net for the go-ahead goal.
“I just fought through,” Basulto said.
El Camino had a prime opportunity to tie the score in the 68th minute when Leonardo Silva made a long run to the end line, beating a defender to send a cross to the middle of the South City penalty box. The pass found Marvin Vargas unmarked, but after taking a touch to settle the ball, his shot was put well over the top of the goal.
The Colts tried in vain to find the equalizer in the waning minutes, but the Warriors held them off.