Team plays next round Tuesday
Freshman midfielder Jesus Vidal drilled a shot through a gaggle of players in front of the goal that found the back of the net and lifted Taft College into the quarterfinals of the northern California soccer playoffs.
The game-winner came in the 85th minute of a hard-fought first-round match and gave the No. 6 Cougars a 3-2 victory over visiting No. 11 Las Positas College of Livermore.
Vidal’s shot – off a short pass from Jovany Cachola – came moments after Fabian Roman took a hard foul in the box. Cachola flipped the ball out to Vidal just inside the 18-yard box as players scrambled in front of Hawk goalkeeper Jose Elizondo. Vidal’s line drive came so hard Elizondo was unable to get a glove on it.
“I felt like we had control of the game,” said Cougar coach Angelo Cutrona. “I’m glad that our type of soccer prevailed.”
He said the Cougars were prepared for the way the match ended.
“All week we had practiced for those scenarios. We never lost our composure. That’s going to take us a long way if we can keep that up.”
For now Cutrona hopes it serves the Cougars well when TC travels to No. 3 De Anza College in Cupertino on Tuesday for a second-round match. De Anza (13-2-6) beat No. 14 Contra Costa 3-1 in the opening round. NorCal semi-finals will be played Saturday. (Check taftmidwaydriller.com to see if the Cougars advanced.)
Las Positas, who upset the Cougars two years ago in the first round in Taft, scored first on a goal by Marco Neves in the 44th minute.
“Giving up that goal in the 44th was a bummer because we were controlling the tempo,” said Cutrona. “We were prepared for their throw-ins and free kicks.”
Four minutes into the second half on Taft’s first possession the Cougars got even when forward Fernando Robles headed in a goal off a free kick from Christian Garcia.
The Hawks answered with a goal in the 55th minute, Neves scoring again with a header also off a free kick.
Five minutes later the Cougars tied the score again when Luis Martinez’s shot ricocheted off a defender’s leg and Cachola slammed it into the back of the net.
The Cougars kept working, controlling possession since the Hawks were down a man after a red card in the 50th minute.
Finally, the hard work paid off with the late goal from Vidal.