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Godinez boys soccer rallies to stun JSerra in Division 1 playoffs

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Godinez High’s defense faced one attack after another to open the second half of its CIF Division 1 playoff match at JSerra on Saturday, May 15.

The Grizzlies and goalie Gabriel Contreras not only handled each surge, they gave their offense more time to make something happen.

That’s all Ramses Esquivel needed.

The junior forward snapped a tie by scoring in the 66th minute and again in the 79th to help lead Godinez past the Trinity League runner-up Lions 3-1 in a second-round match of schools that also faced off in the Division 1 playoffs last year.

In 2020, JSerra edged Godinez 2-1 in the second round but it was the Grizzlies (11-1-2) celebrating this time with hugs, chants and a little postgame music.

“Tremendous win,” Godinez coach Ruben Fernandez said. “I was telling the boys this is probably one of the most satisfying wins that I’ve had even though we’ve won CIF twice, state. We’re playing one of the top teams in Division 1, they’re good all around.

“They had most of the game but we knew that we’re dangerous going forward. I knew we were going to have our chances. It was a question of putting them away.”

Esquivel took care of that. In the 66th minute, he raced with a defender for a lead pass that also attracted the goalie charging from his net. Esquivel won a scramble for the ball and scored on an open net for a 2-1 lead.

In the 79th minute, he caught JSerra’s defense a bit thin from sending players to offense and found the net again on a strike from about 18 yards near the outside corner of the penalty box.

But Esquivel’s strikes only decided the match because Godinez defense withstood a barrage of about seven corner kicks from JSerra (9-2-1) in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Contreras made a two leaping saves to anchor a defense led by stopper Steven Osuna, left back Chris Sanchez, right back Brian Martinez and Martin Meza.

Fernandez praised Meza for a critical clearance that saved a goal.

Contreras, a senior, capped a 10-save performance by making a diving save on a penalty shot by UC San Diego-bound Max Carvalho after a hand ball in extra time.

“Godinez wall that we couldn’t break,” JSerra coach Erik Kirsch said of the Grizzlies’ defense. “That’s soccer, right? We had most of the possession the second half, the first 30 minutes and … they go down and they did take care of the job.”

JSerra junior forward Tyler Stewart opened the scoring in the eighth minute by putting away a rebound goal after a cross from the left wing into box and scramble in front of the goal.

Godinez responded in the 20th minute as midfielder Antonio Diaz headed in a free kick from forward Ivan Lopez.

And while the Grizzlies defense played a major role against a team with several college-bound players, Fernandez said his team was bolstered by one other factor.

“We don’t size to them,” he said. “We don’t have the speed. But I think tonight, we showed we have the heart.”

In the quarterfinals Wednesday, Godinez will take on Santa Ana Valley, a 6-5 winner against North Torrance in another match. The Falcons beat Godinez earlier this spring.

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