CHS boys soccer holds on for CIF win

The Wolfpack took on the Redondo Union Sea Hawks on Wednesday night in a 2nd-round showdown. Underdogs Redondo gave a Claremont a run for its money, and could have put the game away with a late winner. However, Claremont held firm and a Kelley Collins extra time goal means that the Wolfpack will feature in the CIF quarterfinals.

Redondo came into the match having just beaten one of the top ranked Division 1 teams in the tournament, 3-2 at Ventura, and was riding a wave of confidence coming into Claremont. The Sea Hawks squeaked into the playoffs after a 3rd place finish in the Bay Conference, then defeated Chaminade 2-1 in their Wild Card match.

The Wolfpack are also no stranger to close matches. Claremont managed to withstand wave after wave of attacks from Arlington en route to a 1-0 overtime victory in the CIF first round. Against Redondo, Claremont would again have their hands full.

With the wind chill belying the on-field temperature reading, the teams began the game each on the back foot. Claremont made most of the early going, passing the ball around but not getting any clean opportunities on goal. A cross by Austin Antillon was just missed by Collins after neat buildup play.

Redondo’s Colin Jackson emerged as the danger man after 32 minutes when he was fed through Claremont’s back 4. Jackson feinted left to draw the goalkeeper Kyle Del Campo and cut inside, but Jason Umansky was there to make a last-ditch tackle. A few minutes later, Sam Springer was stepped on while making a tackle in midfield and hobbled off, but would later return. The teams went into the break scoreless.

Coach Fred Bruce-Oliver said, “I usually tell the guys the same thing at halftime, to not panic with the ball. We look great when we are calm and pass and connect with each other, not when we lump it forward every time.” Indeed, Claremont began to pick up the pace as the 0-0 deadlock wore on into the 2nd half.

The Sea Hawks began to put together counter attacks of their own. Redondo’s Giovani Partida almost scored a spectacular goal when he attempted a scissor kick, but unable to connect cleanly with the cross.  After 68 minutes, Partida put the ball in the net; however, the goal was called back for offside. Bruce-Oliver commented on the play, “The goal was definitely offside, but what was strange was that the head ref called it from behind the play, and not the linesman. Our guys have worked on keeping their line and not allowing players in behind them, so they caught the guy offside.”

This would not be the end of the close calls for Claremont. A couple of minutes after Umansky picked up a yellow card for a foul on Jackson, the Sea Hawks almost had the ball in the net again. Redondo’s David Alexander crossed into the box, and Del Campo made a fantastic point blank save from Gus Pamungkas. From the resulting scramble, the Sea Hawks’ James Tanaka headed against the post, and Claremont cleared their lines.

The referee pulled out his yellow card again for Christian Tejeda when he tackled the troublesome Jackson to stop a fast break. Claremont managed one more shot, an effort by Springer that went wide after he jinked past 2 defenders, before the turning point of the match. With seconds remaining in regulation, Redondo broke on the counter attack. A long ball and a through pass released the Sea Hawks’ Pamungkas, who only had the goalkeeper to beat. His shot clanked off the crossbar and away to safety, and the tie was preserved.

In extra time, Redondo pushed for the go-ahead goal. This resulted in the Sea Hawks being short at the back. Defender Babs Abon won back possession for the Wolfpack and sent a searching pass forward to Antillon, who had one defender to beat. Antillon sprinted with ball toward goal, and with the goalkeeper Griffin Thomas closing down his angle, poked it laterally to Collins. Collins had no one around him, and all the time in the world to pass the ball into the net for the sudden death, 1-0 victory. Bruce-Oliver said, “You need breaks sometimes in this game, but if you put in the effort you will see results.”

The Wolfpack, masters of overtime, are drawn against Anaheim Servite for the CIF quarterfinal. Claremont won the home/away coin-toss, and the match against the Friars is this Friday, February 22 at 5 p.m., at Claremont High Stadium.

Servite is another giant-killing team. The Friars finished 2nd place in the Trinity League, but raised their game to beat heavily favored El Toro, 1-0. Esen Harris scored the goal for Servite, and goalkeeper Keith Murphy made 6 saves for the shutout. Other Friars to watch for include top scorers Felipe Silva and Michael Wolitski. The winner of Friday’s match will draw either Los Alamitos or Loyola in the semifinals, to be played next Tuesday.

—Chris Oakley


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