Preps

Saturday, Dec 15 2012 10:55 PM

Centennial strikes gold with victory in Garces Holiday Soccer Festival

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    By Roger Hornback / Special to the Californian

    Members of the Centennial High varsity soccer team celebrate thier overtime victory after Saturday's game at the Kern County Soccer Park.

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    By Roger Hornback / Special to the Californian

    Centennial High's Johny Lemay fights to get control of the ball with Clovis West High's Vincent Valtancoli during Saturday's match at the Kern County Soccer Park.

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    By Roger Hornback / Special to the Californian

    Centennial High's Nigel Kapoor and Clovis West High's Vincent Valtancoli battle for the ball during Garces Holiday Soccer Festival Saturday, December 15 at Kern County Soccer Park.

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    By Roger Hornback / Special to the Californian

    Centennial High's Craig Bailey takes the ball past Clovis West High's Chandler Rowland during Saturday's match at the Kern County Soccer Park.

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BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

For the second day in a row the Centennial High boys soccer team ended a game with an impromptu on-field celebration.

Nearly 24-hours after beating Clovis-Buchanan 1-0 in sudden-death overtime, the Golden Hawks worked their Golden Goal magic again, beating Clovis West 2-1 in the boys Elite-8 Division championship game of the Garces Holiday Soccer Festival on Saturday.

Jared Parks delivered the game-winning blow against the Golden Eagles (2-3), firing a shot into the back of the net roughly five minutes into OT.

After the score, Parks was mobbed by his teammates near the spot where he kicked the ball on the Kern County Soccer Park field.

"It came out and I was right there with my left foot; put it upper (part of the net)," an excited Parks said after registering the first Golden Goal of his high school career. " ... This is awesome. We've never won the Elite-8 for Centennial so this is great."

The goal ended a rough-and-tumble battle that saw Centennial (5-1) receive four yellow cards -- two in each half -- and Clovis West's Jameson Ruppel get a red card late in regulation.

Despite being a man down, the Golden Eagles were able to overcome a 1-0 deficit with a goal just a few minutes before the second-half time expired.

Centennial goalkeeper Josh Schultz came out to field a ball just inside the top of the box, but Clovis West's Vincent Valtancoli got there just a split-second earlier and banged it into the back of the net.

The Golden Eagles momentum quickly faded after that.

"Even down a man on a really suspicious red card, I thought we still dictated play," Clovis West coach Neil Deans said. "We had our chances. We missed a (penalty kick) in the first half ... But the kids fought hard and worked hard. That's all we could ask for."

Overall the Golden Eagles had nine shots on goal compared to four for Centennial.

However, the Golden Hawks cashed in on a much higher percentage of their chances.

"That was a nail-biter," Centennial coach Jeff Vaughan said. "I didn't want it to go to overtime, that's for sure. I thought we were about to see it off and they scored with like two or three minutes left in the game. Then we go to overtime.

"Hey, we hustled there. Loose ball in the box and we get the game-winner. Right guy, right place."

After a scoreless first 40 minutes, Centennial took a 1-0 lead early in the second half when Jordan Reding sent in a long pass to Gianpiero Paletta, who fought past a defender on his left hip and then scored.

"I just saw the run and Jordan pointed a beautiful ball through the air," Paletta said. "I got a lucky touch. To cut it in, I just hit it. Thank God it went in."

While Parks and Paletta were the heroes for Centennial against Clovis West, it was an Andrew Aleman's overtime goal that helped the Golden Hawks escape Friday's first round with a win.

Centennial then earned its way to the championship game by claiming a 2-1 semifinal victory over Golden Valley (13-2-1) Saturday morning.

The result was a stark contrast to the teams' first meeting this season, a 6-1 Golden Valley triumph.

Emilio Hernandez scored twice within a 3-minute stretch of the first half to lift the Golden Hawks to a 2-0 halftime lead against the Bulldogs.

Golden Valley spent nearly the entire second half on the offensive attack, firing nine shots on goal over the game's final 40 minutes.

But for all of their effort, the Bulldogs managed to net just one late-game goal, a short punch-shot by Fabian Solorio off of a good cross from Romario Hernandez.

"It was actually probably one of our best offensive games, but we just couldn't finish our chances," Golden Valley coach Dominic Othart said. " ... I know my guys are just kind of really tired right now. It's our 17th game of the season."

Emilio Hernandez put Centennial up 1-0 in the 25th minute on a low, hard shot just inside the near post.

Hernandez then made it 2-0, hammering in a rebound past Bulldogs' goalkeeper Elmer Ayon.

The score came after Craig Bailey sent in a long pass to Reding, who weaved around a defender and then blasted a short-range attempt that Ayon dove and deflected off his fingertips.

"It's pretty impressive what the boys did and what they accomplished here," Vaughn said. "I'm very proud of them. They played with their hearts. They played with determination and they just got after it. They didn't give up at all and we played some very, very tough teams."

In the other Elite-8 semifinal, Clovis West beat Santa Maria-Pioneer Valley 1-0.

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