After Cabrillo’s first-round CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff soccer game against El Rancho had reached the end of regulation, there were two moments when Leonardo Corona experienced fear. The first was before play began—the Jaguars had been stung in sudden death overtime in the playoffs last year, and he didn’t want his team to lose that way again. The second time was when he was at the bottom of a dog pile, with two dozen jubilant, screaming teammates on top of him. Corona was the reason for the celebration, having buried a beautiful pass from Brayan Valenzuela in the goal, giving Cabrillo a 1-0 win.
“I couldn’t breathe under there,” he said with a smile. “I was just waiting for them to get off. All I was thinking all overtime was don’t let it go to PKs.”
It appeared destined for that route after regulation. Cabrillo had dominated the run of play but, as has happened to the Jaguars before, weren’t seeing that domination reflected on the scoreboard. It’s been a theme of the way the Jags have gone down in the postseason in previous years, and coach Pat Noyes admitted he was concerned as well.
“We’ve had that in the Jordan and Wilson games this year, I felt we were playing better but we gave up a goal on something silly,” he said. “Same thing in the playoffs last year—we were nervous today, I think that showed. I felt like we’d get one but you never know. They battled.”
The Jaguars looked like they’d have a chance to put it away early after Valenzuela drew a penalty kick in the eighth minute, but Alexis Torres’ hard shot went off the post.
“If that had gone in I don’t think it would have been a contest,” said Noyes. “But it was deflating for us.”
The Jags had another good chance to end it with two minutes remaining in regulation but Jonny Riquer’s free kick also banged off the post.
That sent the game to overtime, where Corona ended it in the 86th minute, sparing his team, coaches, and fans the suspense—and potential heartbreak—of a penalty kick tiebreaker.
Cabrillo is the No. 2 seed in Division 2 and is trying to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Jaguars will face the winner of Bell Gardens and Thousand Oaks in the second round on Saturday. If it’s Bell Gardens the game will be at Cabrillo, if it’s Thousand Oaks the game will be on the road.