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Boys' Soccer: Eagles denied title shot

Estancia edged by visiting Baldwin Park in CIF Southern Section Division 5 semifinal game Tuesday.

March 04, 2014|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Fans began to chant, "Si se puede!" and the Estancia High boys' soccer team never lost hope. The Eagles trailed by one late in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs and they kept fighting.

Time was running out on the Eagles against Baldwin Park on Tuesday. Their coach, Robert Castellano, raced to the fence to track down a ball with 5 minutes left, trying to save time to give the Eagles another chance to tie the match. He then turned to the home crowd, the biggest to see his team play during his five seasons in charge. He raised his arms, pleading for more noise.

The chants grew louder. Fans came out to support the program's best run in 14 seasons. The last time the Eagles made it this far, the man standing next to Castellano on the sideline led the school to this stage.

Steve Crenshaw coached Castellano at Estancia, and there he was, at the side of his former player. Another former Estancia coach, Gannon Burks, sat on the bench. Castellano used to coach under Burks. Without Burks, Castellano always says he wouldn't be in the position he's in: leading his alma mater.

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Castellano wanted to guide the Eagles back to the top. That last goal never came.

They tried to generate it in the final 10 minutes, off deep throw-ins, set pieces, on long blasts. None resulted in a goal. The Eagles' season ended in a 2-1 loss at Jim Scott Stadium, and Baldwin Park's continued.

"We tried to throw everything we [could at them]," Castellano said. "I always thought [the equalizer] was going to come."

The Eagles (16-6-5) came up short of making their first section finals appearance since the 1999-2000 season, when they last won it all. Baldwin Park (20-4-1) returns to the final for the second time in four seasons.

The Braves have a chance to claim a second section title because of Andy Castillo's goal in the 62nd minute broke a 1-1 tie. The shot came from outside the box, from the right, a bullet that found the inside part of the near post.

Goalkeeper Enrique Valle never saw the low, line drive coming. His own defense obstructed his view. By the time Valle did see it, Castillo's ball found the back of the net.

"That's a tough shot to block, nothing you can do about that," Castellano said.

The rest of the way, the Eagles created most of the chances. They went at the Braves and their keeper, Alfredo Guerra, who Coach Ricardo Mira said played with an injured knee. Guerra, who usually starts, replaced Joshua Luna at halftime.

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