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VAN NUYS — Birmingham and El Camino Real is one of the City Section’s premier soccer rivalries, and it was on full display at LA Valley College, where Birmingham topped its rival 3-1 in the Division I final.
“Nothing better than to beat our rivals and take home a championship for Birmingham,” senior Jerry Ramos said.
Ramos was the star of the show for the Patriots. He scored an early goal about six minutes into the match to give Birmingham a quick 1-0 advantage.
Birmingham and El Camino Real goalkeepers, seniors Mauricio Aragon and Mathew Ceja, were very active in the first half. Both recording more than two saves each in the first half.
El Camino Real’s offense kept putting pressure on the Patriots defense. ECR had a chance late in the first half that hit the crossbar with 14 minutes left.
“The defense took pressure all night long. Tonight they stepped up,” Birmingham coach EB Madha said of his defense.
In the second half, Birmingham stepped up its attack and were shooting from all types of distances. Birmingham’s defense also had to prepare for ECR and their counter-attacks from the wings.
The true feeling of a rivalry game was felt when a small scrum of shoving broke out 15 minutes into the second half that saw one of the Birmingham players pulled to the ground.
Senior Oscar Vargas extended Birmingham’s lead to 2-0 with 24 minutes left in the second half that seemed to shut the door on any chance ECR had for a comeback, but senior Edan Lavarovitch connected on a long-range free kick to cut El Camino Real’s deficit to 2-1 with 13 minutes to play.
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Ramos, however, did put the way for good with his second goal of the day when he found the back of the net from a breakaway opportunity to grow Birmingham’s lead back to two goals in stoppage time.
“It meant everything to me to score the winner, I am so happy,” Ramos said.
Saturday’s victory clinched Birmingham’s fifth City title all-time.
“I’ve been here 22 years, these guys are family to me, so winning for them means everything to me,” Madha said.