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CHS boys soccer hang tough for hard fought 1-0 win

It took 2 overtime periods for the teams to deliver a goal in the battle of attrition that was the Claremont Wolfpack’s first playoff match of 2013. Claremont visited the Arlington Lions in Riverside on Friday night, and delivered a patient, hardheaded performance.

With the sun setting over the railroad tracks behind Arlington’s brand new all-purpose turf field, Claremont kicked off against the 2nd seeded Lions of the Inland Valley League. The Lions finished the season 6-2-4, and had only won 2 of their previous 5 games.

The game began lazily. After 2 minutes, Eric Teagle aggravated a persistent ankle injury while chasing a loose ball, and Claremont was to be without an important striker for the rest of the match. Both teams lacked crispness in their passing, and neither coach wasted time in making adjustments. It took almost 10 minutes for a shot by either team, when Austin Antillon crossed for Kyle Rostenbach, whose effort was saved by Arlington goalkeeper Marwin Ortiz.

Arlington stepped up the pressure. Playing a sole-striker formation with 3 attacking midfielders and 2 defensive ones, the Lions’ main playmakers were Edgar Villagomez and Julian Martinez. Hard challenges began flying in all over the pitch, and the referee gave 2 players warnings before brandishing the yellow card to Claremont’s Jack Blomberg for a late tackle. Coach Fred Bruce-Oliver talked after the match. “This game was great, it had everything. Our players were tough today.”

On 33 minutes, Claremont won a throw out on the right touchline. Specialist Jason Umansky launched the ball into the box, and Steven Mancia rose to head it towards. Lions’ goalkeeper Ortiz flew to his left to palm the effort out of harm’s way. The goalkeeper’s reflexes and Wolfpack throw-ins would become a theme throughout the match, but something had to give. The teams went into halftime deadlocked at 0. Coach Jamie Overbeck remained confident. “At halftime we told the guys, ‘This is what you trained for. Who is going to step up and make a play?’ Glad it worked.”

Claremont came out of the break lethargic, and was almost punished twice within 10 minutes into the 2nd period. Arlington forward Calvin Aceves picked up on a broken play, ghosted in between 2 CHS defenders, and fired a shot that whizzed just over Kyle Del Campo’s crossbar.

Arlington’s frustration showed. Hasani Olalde went into the referee’s book after a dragging down Claremont’s Auden Foxe, who had beaten him with a change of pace. The Lions created another clear opportunity on 56 minutes when Leonardo Rodriguez fed Martinez. Martinez’s struck the ball toward the goalkeeper’s top left corner, but Del Campo reacted quickly to produce a fantastic save, and keep the game scoreless.

This was to be the last of Arlington’s clear opportunities, as defenders Christian Tejeda and Babs Abon tightened up Claremont’s left side. Claremont produced a swift counter attack on 66 minutes when striker Kelley Collins flicked a long ball over his marker’s head, and was fouled 30 yards from goal.

But Abon’s free kick was spilled by the goalkeeper, who also recovered to save from Blomberg’s follow-up. The game whistle blew, and extra time was forthcoming.

The teams remained locked until the 92nd minute of the match. Claremont won a throw-in near the byline, and Umansky aimed his delivery at the goalmouth. But the throw was fumbled by the goalkeeper and it caromed off the crossbar into a crowd of players.

Claremont defender O’Reilly-Hahn was first to the ball, and from point blank range nodded home to send the away sideline into euphoria. “We have been bad at set pieces all year, even though we have the pieces there. We were bound to score from a throw in with all of those chances, ” said coach Overbeck.

Claremont moves on to play the Redondo Union Sea Hawks at Claremont High School Stadium this Wednesday, February 20 at 5 p.m. Redondo beat heavily-favored Ventura 3-2 on the road last round, after finishing 3rd in the Bay Conference and only winning 3 league games all season.

One thing is clear. The ‘Pack will not be taking the Sea Hawks lightly. The winner of Wednesday’s match moves on to the quarterfinals on Friday evening, against either El Toro or Servite.

—Chris Oakley

sports@claremont-courier.com

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