With eight minutes to go, Baker emptied his pockets, handing anything with value to his wife Ann Marie.
“Maybe I should take off my shoes, too,” Baker said. “It took two days for my shoes to dry the last time.”
The pair won’t be dry today.
Rea Elementary doused Baker with water bottles after beating Lincoln Elementary, 8-1, at the Costa Mesa Farm Complex, making it the seventh time the school has claimed the boys’ fifth- and sixth-grade Gold Division crown.
The Sharks accomplished the feat playing beautiful soccer throughout, the kind that is prevalent on the club level.
Rea was unstoppable. Marlon Nava scored twice and Jonathon Arroyo, Jason Arroyo, Alan Gonzalez, Jose Garfias and Manolo Laguna each added a goal, the other was an own goal.
There really was no questioning whether the Sharks would fall short of going back-to-back. The only question was whether they could finish the week-long tournament without allowing a goal.
The program was on its way to outscoring the opposition, 27-0, in five matches until Lincoln’s Jake Kim scored on an indirect kick with two minutes left in the 60-minute match.
A big-time celebration broke out on the field. Lincoln’s players slipped out of their jerseys and raced toward their goalie Michael Pierotti as if they had just scored the game-winner.
Kim explained why.
“It was hot,” he said, “and I couldn’t believe it.”
Neither could Rea’s side. Everyone raised an eyebrow.
The defense had shut down Lincoln the same way it did back in pool play, where Rea won, 5-0. Sweeper Geovanny Felix never allowed anyone to get past him and Jesus Zalpa and Laguna controlled the midfield.
And whenever the opposition was fortunate to take a shot, there was goalkeeper Jesus Silva-Manriquez making a save.
This time Baker decided to give Silva-Manriquez a chance to play striker, the position Baker said Henri Ramirez excelled by scoring eight goals during the tournament.
In came Laguna, who volunteered late in the match when Baker asked, “Who wants to be goalie?”
But Laguna gave Lincoln its chance to end Rea’s shutout streak. He illegally used his hands instead of controlling the ball with his feet when a teammate passed the ball back to him. This set up Kim’s indirect kick from close range.
Everyone laughed when Laguna’s inexperience at keeper cost Rea again. He touched Kim’s shot before it went into the back of the net. If he had let it go through, it wouldn’t have been a goal.
“Two people have to touch the ball,” Baker said. “The dreaded goal.”
Laguna played it cool.
“I also wanted them to like get a goal,” he said. “I felt bad for them because they made it all this way and [to] not get a goal? I wanted them to.”
DAVID CARRILLO PEÑALOZA may be reached at (714) 966-4612 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.