Vallejo outlasts Bethel in TCAL semi
Redhawks top Jaguars in penalty kicks, 5-4, advance to league final vs. Albany
It turns out that the third time was the charm for the Vallejo High boys soccer team against its city rival, Jesse Bethel.
Well, OK, maybe it was the fifth time.
The Redhawks finally tasted victory against their city rivals in a Tri-County Athletic League playoff game that seemed as balanced as a trapeze artist and lasted longer than a Jimmy Page guitar solo. Nearly three hours after the first whistle sounded, Vallejo won in penalty kicks 5-4 when a shot by the Jaguars’ Jordan Oliva sailed over the net and Redhawks goalie Fransisco Mendoza.
Vallejo (16-3-4) hit each of its penalty kicks as the five were scored by Ruben Sierra Jr, Alberto Sierra, Cristian Rodas, Alexis Villagomez and Christian Bernal. Bernal’s goal, the fifth and final one for Vallejo, hit off the hand of Bethel goalkeeper Marco Valenzuela, but
still went in the net.
“You already have to know what side you’re going to pick before you kick,” Bernal said. “Keep it in your head and don’t let the goalie change it. My heart skipped a beat when he tipped it but I still thought it was going in.”
Bethel (13-2-2) matched each of Vallejo’s first four penalty kicks as David Mendoza, Jeremiah Tzun, Miguel Hernandez and Alejandro Cano each converted before Oliva’s shot missed the mark.
Jaguar players and coaches did their best to console Oliva after the missed shot and Bethel head coach Jonathan Tzun was still proud of his squad despite the loss, which he said wasn’t a tough loss, but a good loss.
“I don’t like that word (tough),” the Jaguar coach
said. “At the end of the day it was a good loss man. A lot of people look at a loss as a negative thing, but I don’t. I see it as motivation heading to the section playoffs. We have a win, tie and a loss but we have a banner and they’re still fighting for one.”
Vallejo will now play Albany on Saturday at De Anza High. Albany, the league’s No. 1 seed after winning a tiebreaker with co-league champ Bethel, defeated Hercules 3-0 on Tuesday night.
“It feels great. We had to stay focused and fight for every ball out there and never give up,” Bernal said.
The game remained scoreless in the first half until Omar Gonzalez put the Redhawks on the scoreboard first with a header to the right side of the net that made it 1-0 in the 34th minute.
Vallejo owned the time of possession for the rest of the first half, but could not add to its lead.
In the second half things got more chippy between the teams as both the Jaguars and Redhawks saw more yellow cards than the third aisle of an Office Max. Both teams felt the mounting pressure, as even both sidelines were given a card, one to the Jaguars coaching staff, while a person on Vallejo’s bench not in uniform received one as well.
Finally, Bethel gave the crowd something else to talk about when Matthew Cadavid knocked in a rebound to knot the game at 1-1 in the 55th minute. Interesting enough later in the game, Cadavid, who had the night’s lone regulation goal for the Jaguars, and scored twice in the previous matchup between the two teams, was not one of the first five players to take a shot for Bethel in penalty kicks.
After 80 minutes, the game went to two 10-minute overtimes, but neither squad could end it with a golden goal. Ethan Lara
had a shot for Vallejo saved by Valenzuela in the first overtime, while Cadavid couldn’t quite convert on a one-on-one situation late in the first overtime.
Mendoza had a chance in the second overtime to end it, but the shot went wide right with about a minute remaining.
Despite the loss, Bethel is confident moving forward and will be ready for the North Coast Section playoffs next week.
“We didn’t learn anything from this. I mean it went to penalties,” Jonathan Tzun said. “I mean they missed shots, we missed shots, and with penalties it’s always a coin flip. Whoever misses first losses pretty much. And we missed our last shot. But that doesn’t change anything. I still have confidence in my team until the wheels fall off.”
Vallejo goalie Francisco Mendoza celebrates with members of the team after Bethel’s Jordan Olivia overshot the goal during the fifth round of penalty kicks in Vallejo’s 5-4win in the playoffs on Tuesday.
Bethel’s Jonathan Martinez gets his head on the ball during Tuesday’s loss to Vallejo in the playoffs.