It’s a Storm-y Night
Barreras gets his senior moment, delivers school’s first soccer crown
SANTA ANA PUEBLO — From the sidelines, the coaches of the Cleveland High School boys soccer team were shouting at their team. At anyone and everyone.
“Let Gabe take it!” one coach screamed over and over, to little avail.
With all the fan noise at the complex on the Santa Ana Pueblo, the Storm players couldn’t hear the instruction. And besides, it didn’t really matter, anyway.
Gabriel Legendre and Jairo Barreras had already made their pact.
“I want to thank Gabe,” Barreras said, “for letting me take it.”
“It” was a penalty kick in the 97th minute. And it proved to be the only goal of the Class 5A state final, as that PK late in the second overtime handed the top-ranked and top-seeded Storm (20-3) its first state championship, 1-0 over No. 6 Mayfield on a cold Friday night.
It was Barreras, a senior, who asked Legendre, a junior and arguably the state’s most dangerous offensive weapon, if he could make the attempt from the line after the Trojans were called for a hand ball in the box that they vehemently protested.
“I told him, ‘Yeah he can,’ ” Legendre said. “It’s his senior year, and I wanted
him to win it for Cleveland.”
The shot went to the left of Mayfield goalkeeper Xavier Calderon, who guessed the other direction, and the Cleveland players, along with a sizable portion of their large crowd, spilled onto the pitch to celebrate.
Funny thing is, Legendre admitted afterward, he knew what the Cleveland coaches were shouting.
“I heard it,” he said. “I (decided) I’m gonna let Jairo take it. He deserves it.”
Informed that Barreras and Legendre went rogue, as it were, Storm coach Shaun Gill didn’t flinch, and he didn’t mind.
“That’s the kind of teammates we’ve got, the kind of team we’ve got,” he said. “And that just exemplifies our guys and what we achieved this year together.”
The hand ball occurred after a Cleveland corner kick went into the box. Amid a mass of humanity, the center official saw a Mayfield player touch with an arm, or a hand.
“It was unfortunate they got a hand ball, but that’s soccer,” Legendre said.
Naturally, the Trojans (166-1) — who were also seeking a first blue trophy in this sport — disagreed with the call and were still fuming about it after the game.
“During a game like this? A call like that?” Mayfield coach Andy Polanco said. “It’s hard to swallow.”
Especially for Calderon, who had two brilliant second-half saves that helped Mayfield get into overtime in the first place.
“He should be proud of what he did,” Barreras said of Calderon’s effort.
The overtimes proved to be rather more intense than the 80 minutes of regulation, with both teams having chances. Just moments earlier in the second overtime, Mayfield junior Eliseo Chavez made an outstanding run, gathered a throughball and had position on Cleveland goalie Ryan Watson who had come out to cut down the angle.
Chavez chipped a shot over Watson’s head, but the ball trickled just wide of the net.
This was Cleveland’s first playoffs as a No. 1 seed. The Storm had been widely hailed throughout the offseason as being on that short list of teams to beat, and it all came to fruition on Friday.
“We saw from the beginning,” Barreras said, “that we had something special going on.”
Said Gill: “I knew we were that caliber of team, with that caliber of boys.”
Jairo Barreras ripped off his jersey after he scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick in the second overtime for Cleveland in its 1-0 victory over Mayfield for the Class 5A boys state soccer championship.