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San Gorgonio boys soccer team knocks off Chaminade to reach Division 6 title match

SAN BERNARDINO — Ezequiel Soto still had tears in his eyes 10 minutes after the final whistle.

Full of big moments all season, the San Gorgonio senior midfielder’s goal – his 23rd of the season – proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 victory Saturday night over Chaminade in a CIF Southern Section Division 6 semifinal match.

“I’m just super confident in me and my team. The chemistry is there. Everything in there for us,” Soto said.

With the win, San Gorgonio (25-3-1 overall) advances to its first section final since 1997. The Spartans will host Victor Valley next weekend.

“We beat Chaminade so why wouldn’t we be able to win CIF now?” Soto said.

The No. 1 seed in Division 6, San Gorgonio came in riding an eight-match unbeaten streak, but the Spartans were stunned early after allowing just their second goal of the playoffs

Senior 6-foot-5 goalkeeper Marcus Guzman was late coming off his line on a long throw from Chaminade, and after a scramble in front of goal San Gorgonio trailed for the first time in the playoffs.

“The ball bounced around a couple of times and he could’ve done better but it caught him a little off guard,” San Gorgonio coach Adrian Villalobos said.

Playing in front of a large home crowd, the Spartans kept their heads, and Chaminade allowed them to keep the ball long enough to build into the attack, and Jamil Gutierrez’s short-range blast tied the match in the 20th minute.

“We’re an offensive team and we’re going to take it at teams no matter what,” Villalobos said.

Chaminade (16-8-3) was awarded a penalty in the 48th minute and thunder-footed Ryon Sayeri hit it low and hard but Guzman guessed correctly, diving to his right and smothering the shot to the delight of more than 1,000 spectators.

“That was amazing. He’s tough to score on PKs. He covers a lot of ground and he’s athletic, too,” Villalobos said.

San Gorgonio played with more confidence from that point forward, connecting in the attacking third, producing quality scoring chances and forcing a goal-line clearance and several saves from Chaminade goalkeeper Luciano Covella.

With Chaminade sitting deep and absorbing pressure in the 68th minute, Soto controlled a long pass from the back, turned away from pressure and dribbled between two defenders before unleashing a right-footed curler past Covella and into the back of the net.

“I got the open shot and I put it in the net,” Soto said. “I turned and I kind of felt like it was going to go in the net and I smash it and boom, goal, and it changes the whole game.”

Chaminade had not allowed a goal in three postseason matches and were outshot 5-to-1 in the second half.

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