A quick goal and an early red card.
That's how Tuesday night's critical Ocean League game against Atascadero began for the Nipomo Titans Tuesday night.
Nipomo would eventually recover and achieve some stability, but it ultimately was just too much to overcome.
Atascadero, after Nipomo received a second red card and played with nine men, used an overtime goal from Martin Anguiano to defeat the Titans 2-1 at the Titans' stadium on a brisk night in Nipomo.
"They're teenagers and sometimes they'll lose their composure," Nipomo coach George Ayala said of his players. "They don't get the call that goes their way, so I think it's something to grown on. We haven't lost many games this season, so I think it's a good loss for us. It's a good chance to learn a lesson."
Nipomo's Santino Diaz was sent off with a straight red card fewer than 10 minutes into the game. The head referee ruled that Diaz hit a player with his cleat who was on the ground.
"My top scorers on the season got kicked out of the game," Ayala added. "I didn't see the fouls and I didn't see exactly what happened. But the referee said a guy was punched and my center-mid said he kicked another player."
The Titans fell behind when Atascdero's Ryan Bianco scored on a well-played goal. Nathan Hontz made a strong run down the right wing and slipped a pass behind the last Nipomo defender to Bianco, who sent a shot from the left side across the mouth of the goal to the right corner of the net.
That strike came in the sixth minute. Diaz was sent off three minutes later.
But the Titans stayed in it.
Nipomo goalie Matt Martinelli made two diving saves and the 'Hounds sent two shots off the goal posts to keep it a one-score game.
Then, in the 25th minute, Nipomo's Isiah Gomez started a Nipomo counter with a strong push through the middle of the pitch. Gomez hit Jose 'Duck' Espinoza with a pass before Espinoza found Salvador Ramirez in front of the net.
Ramirez slotted a shot into the back of the net to tie the score.
In the second half, Ramirez ended up earning a red card to put the Titans down two men. Atascadero was eventually hit with a red card of its own and a third player was sent off.
It appeared the Titans and 'Hounds were heading to a penalty kick finale after the game was tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation and the first 10-minute overtime.
But Anguiano took a deep pass and relentlessly attacked the Nipomo defense, fighting off multiple defenders in the penalty area. The ball bounced around some as the Titans nervously tried to clear it. But Anguiano got his boot to the ball and put it in the net.
Nipomo, still, continued to threaten the Atascadero goal, but never found a miracle equalizer.
The Titans fell to 6-2 in Ocean League games, with their only losses coming to Atascadero, which is 6-3 in league. Templeton was 6-2 in league heading into Tuesday's game against Orcutt Academy.
The Titans play Morro Bay on the road Friday in their next game.
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Jincho Rivera scored 17 points, Andres Rivera had 13 and Sam Bazunga added 12.
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