When Warren equalized in the 68th minute, Wilson coach CJ Brewer shuffled his lineup again to try and steal a game winner on the road.
“We made all the adjustments with ten minutes to go and then I sat down,” Brewer said. “I said ‘They’re going to do it’ and I knew that we believed on our sideline, and our players on the field believed, and it happened.”
Anthony Garcia pounced on a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box in the 77th minute and his cracking shot found the back of the net to give Wilson a 2-1 victory in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. The Bruins host No. 2 seeded Mira Costa on Tuesday in the second round.
“I just know where the ball is going to end up,” Garcia said. “I just read it.”
Garcia also put Wilson ahead in the 15th minute by earning a penalty kick and converting.
“All day at practice all Anthony is doing is shooting,” Brewer said. “Even when we want to talk he’s shooting. We have to tell him to stop shooting, but today I did not tell Anthony to stop shooting.”
Warren outshot Wilson 11-5 in the game, but the statistics didn’t reflect the contest because the Bruins were more than willing to rely on its strength and put numbers behind the ball to defend.
It looked like Wilson had thoroughly frustrated Warren, but then the Bears equalized in the 68th minute on a scramble in front of goal. Axel Casasola gathered a pass at the back post and pulled Wilson goalkeeper Gavin Pool-Harris off his line with a fancy spin move. He then turned and chipped a ball back into the box where David Felix volleyed it home with his left foot.
Wilson had the better scoring chances after the goal, and the final one came when Luke Garza took the ball down the left flank. He cut back in and fired a shot that was deflected down and sat at the top of the box.
“I saw Luke get the ball and he usually cuts in to take a shot,” Garcia said. “When he cut in, I saw him about to take a shot, but I saw two (defenders) come at him so I knew he was going to get blocked. I knew I could get the second ball. I saw him get blocked and the ball was just sitting there and I just hit it top right.”
Garcia’s shot was a powerful blast into the top right corner.
“He wants to take advantage of quick weakness and think deadly and then he backs off,” Brewer said. “And then all of a sudden, boom, there he is again. He is a game changer. He’s someone who always has a nose for goal.”
Warren started the game on the front foot while earning four corner kicks in the first 13 minutes, but the Bears couldn’t create a shot off the set pieces.
Garcia earned the penalty kick in the 15th minute by pouncing on a Warren miscue in the box while the Bears were trying to get the ball out of their end. He calmly converted the PK into the bottom right corner.
Wilson didn’t allow Warren to get a shot on goal in the second half until the Bears scored, and the home team was visibly frustrated after halftime.
“I don’t know if we did anything necessarily, I think the heat got in all of our heads,” Pool-Harris said after making five saves in the game. “It was super dry. Everyone was dying for some water.”
Wilson used its depth to maintain the advantage, and junior varsity call ups like Manuel Moreno and Taylor Doty provided a spark.
“It’s nice to know our players don’t quit,” Brewer said. “Late in the games they still believe and keep pushing. They’ve scored a lot of these late game goals. It says a lot about their sticktoitiveness and their belief. They’re just a hard working group that believes and they’re patient.”
Wilson will have its hands full with Mira Costa on Tuesday.
“We have to keep up with their energy,” Brewer said. “They run the game like a track meet. They’re up and down the field. All of their players play box to box. We’re going to have to keep up with the pace of that and rely on the depth of our bench so we can get fresh legs in.”
“We’ll only have one practice before then so we have to stay super focused and organized,” Pool-Harris said.
MOORE LEAGUE PLAYOFF SCORES
Long Beach Poly 1, Santiago 3
Millikan 0, Huntington Beach 3
Cabrillo 1, Montebello 2
Lakewood 0, Santa Ana 1