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By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
The South High boys soccer team dominated the first half of its Central Section Division III first round playoff game against North on Wednesday night.
And that was the Rebels' "bad" half.
Leading 1-0 at halftime, No. 5 South went on a scoring tear in the second half and rolled to a 7-0 win over No. 12 North.
Freshman Denis Rivas had three goals and an assist, and Henry Fuentes chipped in a pair of goals for South, which had 20 shots on goal, 14 in the second half.
"We started picking up the intensity and playing as a team (in the second half)," Rivas said.
The Rebels advance to the quarterfinals to host No. 13 Ridgeview on Friday.
"I'm happy about it," South coach Orlando Perez said of his team's win.
"We have a pretty good mixture of players. A good senior class mixed in with some freshmen. It's a good mix."
South (16-7-3) controlled possession for a huge majority of the entire game, so much so that the ball was rarely ever on the Stars' offensive end of the field.
"I think we could have done better, but I think the players didn't come prepared today," North coach Ronald Leiva said after his Stars finished the season 7-12-1. "We weren't ready for this game."
Using their quickness and superior ball skills, the Rebels created numerous scoring opportunities in the first half but didn't capitalize on any of them until late in the first half.
Finally, in the 27th minute, Rivas scored on a breakaway.
After taking a long pass from Enrique Marquez, he fired a hard shot that North goalie David Alvarez blocked. But Rivas was right there for the rebound, hammering home a short kick into the back of the net.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Jesus Barajas scored on a penalty kick.
Then just moments later, South upped its lead to 3-0 when Rivas crossed the ball right in front of the North goal to Fuentes for an easy score.
Rivas quickly extended the Rebels' lead to 5-0 with back-to-back goals 90 seconds apart.
"We did a good job," Fuentes said. "We just had to put in the work and just win the game and just keep on going in the playoffs."
After completing the hat trick with 20 minutes left, Rivas was replaced in the game.
South also had unassisted goals by Jesus Lara and Fuentes.
"I told my boys it doesn't matter what the score is, you just got to keep pushing," Perez said. "Even if we get one or get two (goals) we got to keep pushing, keep pushing the game."
Marquez had two assists.
South goal keeper Patricio Garay had one save.
"One thing I do like about this team is when they play together and they battle for each other," Perez said. "I've seen them play against the best. And when they do that, we're capable of beating any team at any time. I think the boys are believing in themselves. They're believing in it as a unit."