As the final minutes ticked off in a 4-1 win for the Capuchino boys’ soccer team, members of the Mustangs’ girls’ team started a chant of “CCS! CCS! CCS!” from the stands.
It’s been a while since the Mustangs have had a chance to hear those three letters in relation to the boys’ soccer team. The last time the Cap boys’ made the playoffs was 2002.
Well, the Mustangs are going back in 2019 as they rallied from a goal down to beat rival Mills in the regular-season finale.
“It’s the greatest feeling,” said Capuchino senior captain David Garcia-Garnica, who scored the Mustangs’ tying goal in the first half. “I’ve been playing (soccer) my entire life and I’ve never felt better.”
Capuchino (9-2-3) came into the game with 27 points, two points ahead of Hillsdale. The Mustangs needed at least a tie against the Vikings to clinch a share of the Peninsula Athletic League’s Ocean Division title. But instead of leaving it up to tiebreakers to decide the division’s automatic CCS bid, Capuchino went out and claimed the outright title and playoff spot.
But playing on their home turf — one of two natural grass fields left in the PAL — that deteriorated as the game went along in the wind and rain, the Mustangs had several strong scoring opportunities early, only to see Mills draw first blood with a goal in the 13th minute.
But Capuchino was not to be denied. The Mustangs knotted the score at 1-all before halftime.
In the second half, all those Mustang near-misses turned into gold as they scored three times during a 10-minute span to make the final 30 minutes a moot point.
“It’s been a long time (since qualifying for CCS),” said Mauricio Rodriguez, Capuchino’s first-year head coach. “From Day 1, they worked really hard. We all had to pull together.”
Jose Chavolla had a big day for Capuchino, scoring twice and assisting on a third. He stunned everyone three minutes into the second half when he unleashed a shot from 30 yards that he curled just inside the far left post to score what would be the game-winning goal.
Four minutes later, Chavolla struck again. This time, Edgar Munoz won a ball near the end line and sent a cross to the front of the goal. Chavolla snuck between a pair of Mills defenders and headed home the cross for a 3-1 Mustangs’ lead.
“Early on, we lost our [main forward],” Rodriguez said. “Jose, the kid plays everywhere. … The kid just performs.”
In the 52nd minute, Chavolla was at it again, this time providing the assist on the Mustangs’ fourth goal of the game. He was engaged with a Mills defender deep in the Vikings’ end, who eventually won control of the ball.
But his clearing attempt went only a few feet as it bogged down in the mud and Chavolla was there to pounce on it. He took a couple touches before sending a cross to the front of the goal, where Charlie Chetcutti split a pair of defenders and poked a one-timer into the back of the net for the 4-1 advantage.
Mills had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game, but the Vikings just could not seem to find the mark. Yuma Miyake had a number of chances go by the wayside and when the Vikings did manage to get a shot on frame, Capuchino goalkeeper Chris Medina was there with the routine save.
Medina, however, did not have much of a chance when Mills opened the scoring in the 13th minute against the run of play. Capuchino opened the game with two great scoring chances in the first 10 minutes before Mills’ Justin Lauer latched onto a ball just past midfield and broke in on goal. He beat his mark into the penalty box and unleashed a shot that seemed destined for the far left corner.
But the ball banged off the post and rebounded back into the field of play, where Masaya Miyake was waiting. He took a touch to settle the ball before blasting it past a scrambling Medina and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“That’s been the story of our season,” Rodriguez said. “[We] push, push, push and then we get scored on.
“But we never settle. We’re fighters.”
Garcia-Garnica said the Mustangs weren’t too worried about the early deficit.
“We were dominating,” Garcia-Garnica said.
Ten minutes later, the game was tied at 1. Despite the sloppy conditions, the Mustangs used some nice combination passing in a tight space. A cross was sent to the far left post where Garcia-Garnica was stationed and he headed a shot on goal from about eight yards out that was perfectly placed into the far right corner.
“They say, ‘I can’t do it without you,’” Rodriguez said of his team’s mantra. “They know when they play together, they perform their best.”