The visiting team at Rice Ranch in Orcutt was making its first CIF Southern Section playoff appearance in 15 years. The home team finally broke into the playoffs for the first time in school history.
But in the end, it was Hueneme prevailing over Orcutt Academy 4-1 in penalty kicks on Tuesday to open the Division 6 wildcard round – rewarding the Vikings their first playoff win in program history.
The Viking victory now places Hueneme against Nordhoff for a Thursday road match. The Spartans – who hadn’t finished above .500 before this year’s playoff run – end the year at 16-8-2 overall under head coach Brian Speer.
Speer tried to lift the girls’ spirits up after falling in the third overtime period, which by rule ends with both teams attempting five kicks and ends when a team reaches four goals.
While Speer was surrounded by a dejected and tearful group of girls underneath a cold and cloudy sky, he left Rice Ranch with optimism.
“It was a great season. It really was,” Speer said in the huddle. “You guys should be holding your heads high. Not many expected you to go third place, but you proved a lot of critics wrong – and you’ve made us proud as coaches.”
During the free kick scenario, only Mecaelea Lopez managed to fire the ball inside the net for OAHS, tying the game at 1-1 during the penalty kick scenario. However, the Spartans’ next two attempts from Kira Hopkins and Keanna Ackerman, would either get the ball to ricochet off of the crossbar or off the left post.
Hueneme freshman Angela Baltazar, junior Abigail Serrano and junior Evelyn Marquez tacked on the final goals for the Vikings – leading to a sea of red and white rushing into each other in glee afterwards.
Speer, though, reminded his girls how far they’ve taken the program.
“It was fun to watch you guys. Like I told you all last night: It was always fun to listen to other coaches tell us with how well you guys were playing,” Speer said.
During the first five minutes of the first half, Emilee Evensmoen – a foreign exchange student from Norway – went into a score-now mode. The senior forward sprinted toward the goal before getting tangled up and falling down on her sprint attempt.
Multiple offside penalties were also called against the Spartans, which perplexed the parents and students who stood along the grass and walkway to watch the Spartans, as they’ve claimed that calls against OAHS were rare throughout the season. The Spartans kept Hueneme at bay with a strong defensive display from the likes of Lopez, Shari Ryan and Marianna Chavez until Baltazar booted a left corner attempt that sailed inside the net.
The Vikings led 1-0 for most of the second half, until Chavez found a wide open Evensmoen inside the goal keeper box, who got the ball to roll inside the net and tie things up 1-1.
But from there, the Vikings found a late gear to end the Spartans’ historic first playoff run.
For Hueneme – out of the Pacific View League – the Vikings also took third in its league at 9-7-2 overall and 4-4 in PVL play. And the Vikings won with top scorer Alice Hernandez held to zero goals.
Speer and the Spartans only lose two players from this year’s team, giving his team momentum for next year as they now head to the Central Section starting in 2018-19.
“We had a great time and we had a lot of fun with them. I just wish it didn’t end in penalties,” Speer said. “But this is, without a doubt, one of the best Spartan teams ever.”
'Dogs hang on for win
Hancock scored eight runs in the first two innings against College of the Canyons then held on for an 8-5 victory on a soggy afternoon at John Osborne Field.
Daniel Curiel got the Bulldogs going with a one-out single in the bottom of the first inning.
Ismael Hernandez then singled and Cordell Bowie followed with an RBI single, scoring Curiel.
After Josh Tonascia walked to load the bases, Chad Jones singled home Hernandez.
Reed Odland then walked in a run against Canyons pitcher Eric Little to cap a three-run first.
In the second inning against reliever Anthony Gomez, Quinntin Perez was hit by a pitch and Curiel singled.
On a double-steal, the Canyons catcher threw the ball away, allowing Perez to score.
After a Hernandez single moved Curiel to third, Bowie had another RBI single to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead. Jones and Odland followed with RBI singles and Marcus Nix Jr. drove in another run on a fielder’s choice to put Hancock up 8-0.
Sophomore pitcher Dylan Maiden picked up the win giving up five runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Hernandez came on and threw 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
The Bulldogs (4-5) snapped a five-game losing streak.
Hancock has two more home games this week, hosting Irvine Valley on Friday and Saturday.
Track and field
Winter Championship Qualifier
St. Joseph junior Joseph Domingues Jr. qualified easily for the Winter State Championships in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 10.02 seconds, the fastest time in that event at Simi Valley High School last Saturday.
The Winter State Championships will take place Saturday at Arcadia High School.