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Sea Kings silenced

SOCCER: Corona del Mar lets 3-2 lead slip away and loses with two minutes left in overtime against Rio Mesa Friday.

February 27, 2009

Defenders Miles Kellerman and Alfie Nowak were also noted by Callaghan as seniors who were highly instrumental in CdM’s playoff run.

Callaghan struggled to speak of his team’s future because of his appreciation of the seniors.

Freshmen Grady Howe, Mason Case and Jack Gorab were key contributors in CdM’s scoring, plus the Sea Kings’ star striker, Reed Williams, will be coming back next season for his senior year.

“Obviously we have a bright future with these young freshmen,” Callaghan said just before wiping a few tears away. “But the seniors are the glue that kept us together. Yeah I look forward to our future, but we’re not looking at that right now.”

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During the match, the future played mighty fine during the present. Howe scored 10 minutes in, booting in the ball from about 20 yards out. It came shortly after Gorab’s corner kick. The Spartans (13-8-3) tried to clear out Gorab’s kick, but Howe countered. Howe’s shot ricocheted off the cross bar, bounced to the ground and went in.

Howe ran toward the CdM sideline, excitingly cupping his hand to his ear as if he wanted the crowd to cheer louder.

But 10 minutes later Rio Mesa answered back when Michael Hernandez scored on a header.

Junior Ryan Kontra helped the Sea Kings regain the lead with three minutes left in the first half, scoring on a quick cross from Williams. Kontra did a somersault and a flip to celebrate his goal.

But the Spartans kept fighting back. Callaghan figured they would. He said he felt uneasy and anxious before Friday’s game. Rio Mesa entered the playoffs as an at-large team, the fourth-place team from the Pacific View League. But now the Spartans are one of three teams from their league to reach the semifinals.

They began in the wild-card round and battled their way to Corona del Mar. Just like in Reyes, there was no quit.

Playing against a team like CdM made it all the more challening.

But Rio Mesa’s standout senior Javier Marquez scored his 17th goal of the season in the 62nd minute to make it 2-2. Junior Jerry Ponce also gave the Sea Kings fits. He’s Rio Mesa’s leading scorer with 21 goals.

“You can’t neutralize both them of them,” Rio Mesa Coach Brandon Fuchs said. “And when you do we have another guy who can come up and that is Reyes.”

Gorab scored the go-ahead goal for a 3-2 lead after finishing Case’s pass.

But, again, the Spartans never wavered.

Later in overtime Reyes put the Sea Kings away.

“He’s completely deaf,” Fuchs said of Reyes. “That was good because we had him on the side where all the fans were and he couldn’t hear them. It worked to our advantage.”


STEVE VIRGEN may be reached at (714) 966-4616 or by e-mail at steve.virgen@latimes.com.

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