SOLEDAD — Facing elimination in the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs forced the Soledad High Aztec soccer team to take some risks against the Mt. Pleasant Cardinals. Unfortunately for Soledad, the Cardinals had enough firepower to roar back and handle the Aztecs 6-3 and advance to the finals.
The Aztecs faced a 3-0 deficit but gained a little momentum at the end of the first quarter on goal off a set play on a free-kick by Alexis Sanchez to cut the lead to 3-1.
“A two-goal lead is not an insurmountable lead in soccer,” said Soledad head boys soccer coach Reyes Mendoza. “We felt with the momentum we gained to end the first half we could come back and beat them.”
Soledad fell behind 1-0 in the first minute as a shot hit off the far post and went in in for goal. By the time the Aztecs were ready to make a game of it the Cardinals capitalized on a defensive lapse and scored on a good outside shot to take the 3-0 advantage.
“We went out the second half with a new tactical attack that would help us be creative on offense,” said Coach Mendoza. “Everything was working to plan as we scored on a goal by Alexis Ortiz and then a goal by Ruben Esqueda tied the game at 3-3. We stayed committed to have three guys in the back defensively but when Mt. Pleasant scored after our tying goal they took advantage of our defensive formation and scored two more times. If I know we would have a chance to end the game at 4-3 I would have made changes but I did not feel we could have gotten any closer than that.”
The Aztecs finished the season with a 16-2-4 record with their only losses to Alisal and Mt. Pleasant. Last Saturday the Cardinals won the CCS title by beating Sacred Heart Cathedral by a 1-0 score in the championship game.