Hanford stuns Exeter in overtime

(Kason Clark)

Monarchs boys soccer falls in a 2-1 overtime loss to the visiting Bullpups in the quarterfinals of the Division V Central Section playoffs; Exeter finishes its season with an overall record of 12-8-2

EXETER – Late in its game against Hanford this past Friday night, Exeter boys soccer was in control. With a 1-0 lead at home, the No. 4 seed Monarchs were just a few minutes away from defeating No. 12 seed Hanford and advancing to the semifinals of the Division V Central Section playoffs.

But the Bullpups had other plans as Alan Enriquez scored a goal to tie the match and force overtime. Enriquez then scored a goal on a free kick in the extra period to give Hanford the 2-1 victory over Exeter on Feb. 16. As his team let the game and the season slip away, Exeter head coach Pete Renteria believes the Monarchs did not stay true to themselves.

“We didn’t play our brand of soccer. We started out lackadaisical and we just didn’t play our style,” Renteria said. “It was just our mistakes as we couldn’t get out of our bad ways.”

It was a battle throughout the night as both offenses struggled to break through for a goal. By halftime, it remained a scoreless tie as it felt like any score would win the game. The Monarchs needed a play in the second half, and that was when Irwin German came through.

With just under 24 minutes left in regulation, German got a deflection off the Hanford goalie and drilled the ball into the back of the net to give the Monarchs the 1-0 lead. With the lead, the Monarchs focused on continuing to play sound defense as they shut out Hanford over the next 18 minutes of play.

But there were another five minutes left on the clock, and that is when Enriquez came through for the Bullpups. From deep, Enriquez launched the ball and got it to land into the left side of the net for the score to tie the match.

“We gave up a bad ball,” Renteria said about the kick that tied the game. “We played it to the middle and gave up the ball to a kid’s foot and he whacked it and put it in the back of the net.”

The Monarchs were unable to respond as the match went to overtime to decide a winner. Only a few minutes into the first overtime period, an Exeter penalty gave Enriquez a free kick. Enriquez capitalized on the golden opportunity as he snuck his kick into the bottom left corner of the goal to give his team a 2-1 advantage.

The Monarchs had a chance to respond but they were unable to score in the final five minutes of the first overtime period. In the second overtime period, the Monarchs continued to struggle pressuring the Hanford defense as they failed to score to keep their season alive. While his team struggled to connect on their kicks, Renteria credited the Hanford defense for playing sound ball.

Exeter’s Miguel Santiago kicks the ball against Hanford this past Friday night. The Monarchs lost, 2-1, to Hanford in overtime of the quarterfinals of the Division V Central Section playoffs. (Kason Clark)

“They were very skilled, well coached and they came out with a lot of urgency,” Renteria said. “The whole night, they just countered what we did as we were in a funk and we just couldn’t put it together.”

While it was a disappointing end to the year, Renteria was proud of what the Monarchs accomplished this winter. They finished the season with an overall record of 12-8-2, including a 6-0-2 league record to finish first in Tri County-Sequoia League. It was the first season that saw the Monarchs go without a loss in league play.

The Monarchs saw contributions from many young players, including sophomore Jesus Lara who set a school record with 25 goals in a season. So even though the Monarchs are upset they let this playoff game slip away, Renteria believes his young team has plenty to feel good about heading into the offseason.

“There were a lot of firsts and we had a lot of first-year kids start,” Renteria said. “It was a fun and rewarding season, and unfortunately we fell short tonight, but that’s soccer for you.”

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