By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
LINDSAY– If someone would have told Lindsay head coach Tony Godoy before the season that his No. 2 Cardinals would lose their opening round playoff game, he would have disagreed; especially, if it were a loss to the team that took the title from them last year. Yet that is what happened in Friday’s Division IV quarterfinals matchup when the No. 10 Mira Monte Lions eliminated the Cardinals 3-2.
“We definitely did not deserve to win,” Godoy said. “This group of players deserved another valley championship appearance. But as far as this game is concerned, we deserved this loss.”
Lindsay’s (16-7-3, 10-2) run at a third straight title game appearance had to begin without one of their leading players, midfielder Refugio Rios. He received a red card in the last twenty minutes of Lindsay’s East Sequoia League title clinching 3-1 win over Strathmore last week.
“There is no sugar coating a caliber player like that, and playing without him was a huge loss,” Godoy said. “We just couldn’t make the adjustments we need to.”
On the rain-soaked field, Mira Monte (11-10-6, 4-4-2) took advantage of Lindsay’s missing star player as they kept a step ahead.
The two goals Mira Monte scored in the first half were just ahead of Lindsay’s goals as well—two minutes to be exact—and both scored by the same player on either side. In the 14th and 28th minutes, Jonathan Alvarenga scored both of Mira Monte’s goals. While Emillano Corona scored both of Lindsay’s goals in the 16th and 30th minutes to send the game into half time tied 2-2.
Last weekends showers turned into a downpour in the second half of Friday’s game. But that did little to stop Mira Monte’s offensive attack.
In the 12th minute Mira Monte’s Eriel Abrev scored the game winner on the left side of the net.
It was on the second and third go ahead goals that the Lions made two crucial defensive mistakes, the biggest being on the game winner when a Cardinals’ defender whiffed on a clearing attempt, allowing the Lions’ offense to get in behind the defender.
“It was a nice goal, but the opportunity should never had happened,” Godoy said. “They made us pay for our mistakes, and good teams make you pay.”
Lindsay did not only miss on their defensive chances in the second half, but offensive ones too. Early in the half Lindsay had three straight corner kick attempts. All were successfully cleared.
For most of the game Mira Monte had six guys along their back line, and all were at least the same height or taller than Lindsay’s forwards. Adon Fajardo was the tallest at about 6 feet, 3 inches. Lindsay just could not get a crossing pass by him.
“They are solid,” Godoy said. “I was very surprised that they got such a low seed and would not be shocked if they went on to win it all.”
Although Lindsay feel short of another title game appearance, a goal which was well within their grasp, they did achieve a lot. Lindsay won their eighth straight East Sequoia League Championship and kept the Champions Cup for a fifth year.
It still doesn’t ease the shock of such an early loss especially for those looking for redemption like Lindsay’s goal keeper Albert Gutierrez.
“It is so hard to describe this feeling because I’ve been playing soccer my whole life,” Gutierrez said. “It just sucks that we didn’t get to where we wanted.”
Despite Lindsay graduating eight seniors including Gutierrez, Godoy believes that the program is in good hands. Lindsay might take a step back from focusing on the valley championship so much, but a ninth straight league title is well within their grasp according to Godoy.