For the second time in just three short days, Memorial Stadium was the site of heartbreak for the hosts as Edison upset Vintage, 3-2, in a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I boys soccer playoff quarterfinal Thursday evening.
On Tuesday, seven of the 16 higher seeds in the top two divisions went down – including No. 3 Division II seed Napa High at the hands of No. 14 Gregori in a penalty kick shootout at Memorial. Another upset decided by penalty kicks that night was posted by No. 12 Edison over fifth-seeded Enochs.
Vintage’s loss was especially shocking considering how much it dominated, from the opening whistle until the soul-crushing final chirp rang out.
“It obviously hurts, but soccer is a game of chances – especially in the playoffs – and you have to take your chances,” Vintage assistant coach Alex Feliciano said. “The team that capitalizes on their chances … usually gets the result they want and moves on.”
The Crushers came out red hot to start the contest, even with the temperature at game time dipping closer and closer to below 40 degrees. The hosts pushed the attack in the first 20 minutes, pelting Edison goalkeeper Juan Carlos Pelayo with four quick opportunities.
The Vikings didn’t have many shots on goal, but made the most of them. They took the lead on just their second shot on frame, as junior midfielder Ricardo Iniguez found the back of the net in the 20th minute. It took the visitors little time to score again, as Isaac Valdez found a loose ball after a free kick wasn’t cleared out of the box and buried the shot in the 25th minute.
Vintage controlled the midfield all evening, allowing their defenders to inch forward and attempt to get the hosts back in the game. A major key for Edison, however, was its crisp and effective counter attacks to the Crushers’ aggressive defensive runs up field. All three of the Vikings’ goals were created off quick counter opportunities.
“There are times when soccer can be an unfair sport,” Feliciano said. “You can have all of the time of possession and all the opportunities, but if you don’t convert it just doesn’t go your way.”
Vintage almost had more shots on goal than the Vikings had total shots, finding the frame 13 times out of 20 shots and Edison finding seven of 15.
“Sometimes the better team statistically doesn’t always win and that is a good learning lesson for the returning players,” Feliciano said. “Tonight just wasn’t our night for finishing in front of goal and they took their chances and credit for them.”
The Crushers scored their first goal in the 32nd minute, when Christian Ceja took a free kick at the 25-yard line in the middle of the field. The up-and-coming sophomore smashed the set piece along the ground and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Just like at the start, Vintage came out strong to start the second half. The Crushers quickly scored the equalizer in the 47th minute, when freshman Geraldo Perez took a shot from outside the box that deflected off of Iniguez in the box and into the left side of the net.
“The boys came out ready to battle for the second half, but it is hard to sustain that level of energy throughout the whole game,” Feliciano said.
The Vikings were quiet for most of the second half. But in the 60th minute, a cross came in from the right side of the field. Vintage failed to clear the attack and the loose ball once again found the foot of Iniguez for his second goal of the game and a 3-2 Edison lead.
Vintage continued to hunt for the equalizing goal, but a valiant effort failed to be reached. When the final whistle blew, half of the Crushers instantly fell to the ground in shock and disappointment. Wednesday was a devastating end to a solid season for Vintage. The Monticello Empire League champions had a nine-game win streak snapped, finishing with an overall record of 19-4-2.
It’s the second year in a row that the Crushers have had their season ended by a Stockton team, after Franklin blanked them 2-0 in their 2017 playoff opener.
San Joaquin Athletic Association champion Edison (15-6-3) next travels to No. 1 seed Folsom, a 2-0 winner Thursday over No. 9 Sheldon, for a semifinal matchup on Tuesday.