STORY AND VIDEO BY MATT SIMON
In what was his final game as the Millikan boys soccer coach, Rod Petkovic and the Rams were defeated 1-0 in the CIF Division 1 second round Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
With different styles of play, Millikan and Santa exchanged scoring opportunities with the Saints taking an 8-4 shot advantage at the half.
With only one yellow card given in the first half, things got physical in the second half after Santa Ana’s Juan Castillo scored to give the Saints a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute.
After taking the lead, Santa Ana’s Rodney Hernandez was called for a red card after he slide tackled Jesus Moreno from behind just outside the box.
With an opportunity to tie the game, Moreno’s freek kick went just over the right corner of the goal post in the 62nd minute.
From that point on, Millikan was given three red cards and two yellow cards as the comeback attempt fell short.
“Not every foul is a red card,” Petkovic said. “I’ll live it at that, I’m not blaming officials, or anything like that. I’m saying not every foul, was a red card. It’s frustrating when it comes down to you work so hard in summer league, preseason, Saturdays and all that and you have this kind of (officiating) performance. It’s just not good enough, I’m sorry to say that. I know I’m leaving, I’m done. It’s just just not good enough.”
After speaking to his team on the field for the last time, Petkovic had a little idea of what the future holds for him.
“I’m a free agent,” Petkovic joked. “I’m a free agent, baby. I’m ready to do anything and everything, but I have no plans.”
Although it hasn’t started to sink in that his storied coaching career is coming to an end, Petkovic said he’ll be thinking about this team for a while.
“I’m going to this team for some time,” Petkovic said. “We spent a lot of time, a lot of emotions. I can’t wait to get together with them for our banquet and have fun with them and that’s really the next time we’ll see all of them together in a good group setting and we’ll finish it up right there and that’s where the final chapter of 38 years of coaching will be.”
Petkovic had plenty of feelings after a disappointing loss, but it hasn’t quite sunk in that it’s his last game.
“When I get home it’s going to hit me,” Petkovic said.
After starting the Millikan program from the ground up, Petkovic has always said it’s never been about the wins and losses, but how he’s able to mold his players into adults.
“The most exciting thing for me is the memories that we’ve made for the kids,” Petkovic said. “I coached at Millikan for 40 years and we’ve won 38 league championships in all different sports that I’ve coached and 16 JV and frosh/soph championships. That’s 54 championships that kids have great memories of. I’m happy with that. Maybe we could have won more CIF championships, but we gave it a good go.”
Although Petkovic’s time at Millikan has come to an end, his lead assistant coach Jeff Schofield (who coached Marina for 13 years) is expected to take over next season.
“The program will be in good hands,” Petkovic said.