Sage Hill crushed, denied

Lightning eliminated from CIF Division IV playoffs after Citrus Hill scores in 78th minute.

February 16, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza,

NEWPORT COAST — Coach Ignacio Cid stood to the side while the Sage Hill School boys' soccer team sat on the grass. The first-year coach waited five minutes before he talked to his players.

Coming up with the right words Wednesday after Sage Hill saw its season end in the 78th minute was not easy. Cid and the Lightning expected the wild-card match in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs to go into overtime.

Victor Avalos changed those plans. The senior scored the game-winner, lifting Citrus Hill of Perris to a 2-1 victory at Sage Hill.


Ryan Fishel tried to slide in and kick the ball out before it crossed the goal line. The ball was on its way to knocking the Lightning out of any chance of advancing to the Friday's first-round match at Rosamond.

"Let's help each other up," said Cid, breaking the silence as he gave Jack Percival a hand and then addressed the team. "You always remember your first team."

Cid reminded the Lightning that they only lost six times this season. The latest setback, coming against an at-large entry into the postseason, was much harder to deal with for the players, especially seniors like Taylor Ross.

Sage Hill (9-6-3) stood a strong chance of advancing to the next round.

The Hawks (11-5-4), a fourth-place team from the Mountain Pass League, prevented that in the waning minutes. They earned three corner kicks, coming oh so close each time to taking the lead.

Sage Hill goalkeeper Adam Ellinson kept brushing Citrus Hill back. The final scoring chance, Ellinson stood no chance at stopping Avalos.

"We had our chances, too. We had a couple of looks right there at the end," Cid said. "It could've gone either way. Both teams had a hard fight. It was one of those games that both teams had their chances and it was who was going to make the best of the one chance [at the end]."

In the beginning, the match's first goal appeared to belong to the Hawks. They briefly celebrated after Sergio Camacho found the back of the net midway through the first half.

The goal did not count after one of the sideline referees ruled Citrus Hill offside.

The Hawks immediately went back to work, creating a couple of more scoring chances. Each shot sailed over the crossbar, and then the Lightning began to make runs.

Percival slipped past defenders twice, only to have the left post and then goalkeeper Sergio Paz stop him from scoring. Percival did not quit.

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