Way To Go Holtville! 2017 CIF Soccer Champs!
By Alfredo Guzman
The Holtville Viking Varsity Soccer squad faced off against the Crawford Colts, Saturday March 4th,11AM at the Mission Bay high school soccer field. The deciding game for the CIF Division 4 Boys Soccer championship was played in front of packed stands.
Two router buses worth of Holtville High students attended the game along with parents, staff and alumni. Entry to the game was $6 for students and $10 for adults.
The first half was characterized by aggressive play by both teams. Volleys of goal attempts on each side of the field filled the air with tension. Spectators were kept on the edge of their seat. The sound of the crowd rose and fell while each team entered the box frantically passing and taking shots.
A rally by Crawford toward the end of the first half, with two close calls, was thwarted by the excellent goal-keeping of John Rodriguez. Keeping Viking CIF championship hopes alive with a halftime score of 0-0. The second half began with Crawford taking the offensive. Crawford’s efforts were futile in the face of the cat like reflexes of goalkeeper, John Rodriguez.
Toward the middle of the second half the Vikings took to the offensive with multiple close shot attempts which ultimately led to a goal by Nick Torres. The crowd erupted. The deafening roar of the spectators gradually became unease as the time left on the clock ticked off second by agonizing second.
CIF victory for the Viking’s was now a matter of defense. Crawford became energized through sheer will and desperation to win.
Multiple stops and close calls by Viking goalkeeper John Rodriguez and excellent defensive play by Mario Tamayo were not enough to hold back Crawford. Hector Ramirez of the Crawford Colts tied the game with a goal toward the end of the second half. The score was tied 1-1 with the game going into fifteen minute sudden victory overtime.
The crowd was practically sick with anticipation. Emotion and nerves were spreading as the hopes and years of hard work and dedication came down to which team could score first.
Adrenaline was getting the best of both teams as overtime began. A Crawford player received a yellow card within the first few minutes of play with a Holtville player responding in kind and receiving one as well almost immediately afterward.
Crawford drew first blood in the box with a scary close call stopped by goalkeeper John Rodriguez. Then it happened, almost too quick to keep track of with the naked eye. The ball passed from Viking to Viking slipping past the Crawford goalkeeper. 2-1, Holtville High School Boys Soccer became the 2017 CIF Champions!
The winning goal was scored by Viking Francisco Navarro who tapped it in after the Crawford goalkeeper dove in the opposite direction. The Holtville crowds chant went from, “Si se puede!” to “Si se pudo!” or “Yes you can!” to “Yes you did!”.
The Holtville High Soccer team collapsed into a celebratory dogpile. Team captain Omar Quevedo ran into the stands to hug his parents. CIF officials took to the PA to remind the crowd not to rush the field as the official CIF Championship awards presentation would begin shortly. In the meantime, parents cried and friends hugged and the crowd cheered.
CIF official Ken Shelton awarded the CIF Sportsmanship award to Viking Oscar Montaño. Patches were handed out to players as their names were announced and their hands were shook by CIF officials. The 2017 CIF Boys Soccer Championship trophy was accepted on behalf of Holtville High School by long time Varsity Coach Juan Arroyo, who celebrated his first CIF win.
Viking starter Luis Estrada said, “I’d like to acknowledge Mario Tamayo for covering Crawford’s most dangerous player. Mario played a heck of a game!”.
Francisco Navarro who scored the winning goal and scored at least once in every post-season game he played in said, “I couldn’t really describe how it felt (scoring the winning goal).
When asked what went through his mind as he shot the winning goal Navarro said, “There’s the win right there in front of me.”
Goalkeeper John Rodriguez was asked how he felt being so key to the Viking CIF win and said, “I don’t think I was the key. I have to give credit to the defense. If the defense looks good the whole team looks good.”
The Vikings advanced to the first round of the State tournament, playing at home on Jim Birger field at Holtville High School, Tuesday March 7th at 4PM. The Vikings faced the Indian Springs Coyotes in the first round of the Division.IV State Finals.
The Vikings opened the game with a breakaway goal by Saul Sanchez at the beginning of the first half. Indian Springs responded with an aggressive offense that kept hammering away at the Viking goal. At the end of the first half the Vikings were down 1-3.
Whatever the coaches told the players to inspire them during halftime worked wonders as the Viking offense took Indian Springs to task, tying the game with 3-3 with less than five minutes left.
Indian Springs received a red card after unnecessary roughness committed against Saul Sanchez with precious little time on the clock. It looked for a moment that the game would be going into sudden victory overtime. But Indian Springs scored at the last possible minute, ending the Holtville High School Boys Soccer team’s post-season journey.
At the end of the game, which about half of Holtville seemed to be in attendance for, the crowd stood and applauded the team. It was a bittersweet ending to a fantastic season.