11/4/2013 3:30:00 PM AIA D-4 STATE QUARTERS Chino 3, Benson 1 Chino Valley boys' soccer advances to semis
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier Teammatescelebrate with Chino’s Kendall Foster (3) after he scored the Cougars’ third goal of the game with less then 1 minute left clinching the win over Benson Saturday afternoon in Chino Valley.
With its offense sputtering for most of its Division 4 state quarterfinals match on Saturday, the Chino Valley High boys' soccer team ultimately turned to sophomore midfielder Oscar Montes and his steady foot to turn the tide.
Trailing No. 7 seed Benson 1-0 at halftime, 2-seed Chino Valley took control late in the second half, as the gifted finisher Montes booted a pair of penalty kicks 13 minutes apart en route to a 3-1 Cougars victory.
Chino (12-0-1 overall record in power-point games) now moves on to the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday to face No. 6 seed Show Low (10-3-1), which upset No. 3 St. Gregory, 3-1, in another quarterfinal Saturday.
"I rely on my penalty kicks a lot and how I do them," Montes said afterward. "I was nervous as could be, just thinking what would happen if I miss and I couldn't get my team to go to the semifinals to hopefully make it to the finals and take this championship. All I had to think is to believe in yourself and push it through."
The Final Four is set for the state tournament, as top-seeded and two-time defending state champion Lakeside Blue Ridge and No. 5 Willcox will meet in the other semifinal match at 7 p.m. Friday.
Both semis will be played at Scottsdale Christian Academy instead of the originally scheduled site of Gilbert Campo Verde High.
The semifinal winners will qualify for the D-4 state championship at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday at Campo Verde.
On Saturday, Benson stacked its defenders in and around its own box to try and stifle the Cougars' potent offense.
The Bobcats took a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes and 46 seconds left in the first half when freshman forward Joe Davis connected on a ball that bounded off the crossbar in front of Chino goalie Spencer Coffin.
At the break, the Cougars gathered around coach Jim Clark and thought they would turn things around if they took their time on offense. After running against a driving southerly wind in the first half, Chino went with the wind to its back once it switched sides of the field with Benson in the final 40 minutes.
"We're a second-half team, and we've been like that all year," said Coffin, who made a few key saves in the match. "So, I was very confident going into the second (half). And, plus, we had the wind on our side this time, so it was a lot easier to kick the ball forward."
Benson seemed content with its narrow lead by playing back defensively, a tactic that worked for a while until the Bobcats committed two costly fouls in their box in the second half.
"There was some frustration with the pushing from behind and stuff, and finally they (officials) called it, and they called it in the box," Clark said. "So, consequently, we got a couple PKs."
With 18:54 left in regulation, Montes lined his first penalty kick into the right side of the Benson goal by the post for the equalizer.
But the Cougars didn't take the lead until only 6 minutes remained on yet another Montes PK that he booted into the net in almost the exact spot. Both shots were from about 10 yards out.
Soon after Chino went ahead 2-1, the Bobcats' frustration got the best of them. Emotions finally boiled over with 17 seconds left when Benson senior Andrew Guilliams received a red card from referee Don Lord for shoving Cougars senior co-captain Antonio Soto to the ground and nearly injuring his knee.
"I felt like we weren't playing our top game, so things just got a little bit dirty 'cause the other team saw we were down and we were arguing against ourselves," Chino midfielder Geo Vedolla said. "So they were trying to make us more mad by fouling us. And we were a little bit desperate because we were fighting against the clock."
Moments later, with only 8 seconds to go, Chino clinched the victory, as sophomore forward Kendall Foster knocked in an insurance goal on an assist from freshman Walter Soto for the 3-1 lead that stood.
After the match, Benson coach Gary Douglas vehemently contested the fouls that led to the penalty kicks and blamed the officiating for costing his team a win.
"We didn't lose this game," Douglas said just before leaving the stadium. "It was lost for us."
For Chino Valley, on the other hand, it has survived and will fight on for at least another game. The team will spend the next few days regaining its strength, as a cold-like bug has affected some of its players (including the heroic Montes), while focusing on defeating Show Low.
In the Old Pueblo Soccer Classic Oct. 5 in Tucson, Chino Valley beat Show Low, 2-1, in the teams' only meeting of the fall.
"Good teams sometimes can have a bad game (in the state tournament) and then come out and make their run," said Clark, whose program last won a state title in 2008. "We definitely had our less-than-perfect game here, and I'm confident we'll come out and play better next weekend."