Cabrillo sophomore Arnold Giron etched his name in the Long Beach sports history books on Saturday at Riverside Poly in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 boys’ soccer semifinals. The sophomore scored three second-half goals in a 10-minute span to lead the Jaguars past Poly 3-1 and into the first CIF Southern Section championship game in school history.
“This is a big deal,” Giron said. “It’s been our goal to get all the way to the end.”
Cabrillo (22-2-4) will face Arlington for the Division 2 title next weekend.
“Fortune has fallen our way,” Cabrillo 20th-year coach Pat Noyes. “We put Arnold in the right spots and we just kept going and kept going. That’s the way we’ve played all year. We know when (the opponent) pushes up and he’s one-on-one with 40 yards of space behind them, there’s not any team that can stay with him. He’s a tank, but a fast tank.”
After a scoreless and relatively even first half, Giron used his speed to chase through balls from midfielder Leo Corona and score in the 60th and 63rd minutes on nearly identical runs.
“In the first half we were trying to find that through ball on the floor, and it just kept getting intercepted,” Giron said. “But we noticed that they were pushed up too much, and they left a gap. We saw it and I just went though that gap every time. Eventually we found it and I scored.”
Poly cut the lead in half with a phenomenal shot from outside the 18-yard box by Steven Anderson in the 67th minute.
Giron came back into the game and quickly shifted the momentum. In the 70th minute, Eduardo Mosqueda’s perfect cross into the box was finished off the volley by Giron to complete the hat trick.
“It’s always a pleasure to play our game, and not theirs,” Giron said.
Cabrillo has complied its best overall record in program history, and has been to three quarterfinals in the last five seasons.
“It just feels like this year in the making,” Noyes said. “Each year is a new year. We’re not that team that reloads. We have to rebuild. Three years ago we win the league, two years ago we didn’t make the playoffs, and last year we lost in the first round.”
Cabrillo outshot Poly 14-9, and had five corner kicks to three. The Bears started the game on the front foot and took the first three shots of the game. Cabrillo goalkeeper Yancy Monterola finished with three saves.
“Today it took us a long time to get going,” Noyes said. “This is some sticky turf, and every ball was checking up… We’ve always tried to play soccer, press high and pass. On this team, I don’t think there’s a weak player out there right now. I think everyone is solid.”
Cabrillo midfielder Leo Corona provided the final pass for the first two Grion goals, but the regular starter didn’t play most of the first half. His grandfather, Raul, was shot and killed last year and he got very emotional when he saw that his grandmother, Maria, had made the trip to see him play.
While Cabrillo met at halftime, Corona sat on the ground about 10-yards away from the bench. When the team talk was done, the entire group went over to pick up Corona.
“They just kept telling me to not give up,” Corona said. “This could’ve been my last high school game and I didn’t want that. We’re a family.”
Corona played inspired soccer in the second half while feeding Giron for the game-winning goals.
“We motivate each other so we can move forward as a group and not individually,” Giron said. “We move as a family and push each other up. We believe we can do anything as a family.”
“As long as we limit our mistakes, the only team that can hold us back is us,” Noyes said.