By AUSTEN CHRISTENSEN, BELLARMINE COLLEGE PREP
March 2, 2013
On a muggy, Saturday afternoon at Oak Grove High School in San Jose, the Alisal Trojans defeated the Bellarmine Bells by a final score of 3-1 to capture the Central Coast Section Division I championship. Alisal (19-0-4) has now gone 52 straight matches without a defeat.
Bellarmine (16-5-5) came within a goal in the 60th minute when Matt DeQuiroz scored on a penalty kick, but Alisal’s defense stepped up the rest of the game to earn the victory. The penalty was set up when Dominic Filice was brought down in the penalty area after he was set up on a great run by Marco Saglimbeni.
Forward Lorenzo Vasquez, who scored a crucial first goal and was all over the field, was ecstatic after his team won.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I chased the championship all four years and my senior year I made it," Vasquez said. "The fans were going crazy after we won and it’s all satisfaction right now.”
Coming into this game, Alisal had an astonishing record of 18-0-4 along with a third place ranking in the country, according to MaxPreps. The Trojans won an emotional game over Salinas rival Alvarez High School on Wednesday night in which they advanced 5-4 on penalty kicks.
Bellarmine came into this game with a 16-4-5 record after defeating Carlmont, 3-1, on Wednesday night. The Bells had a tough start to the season going 6-4-3 in its first 13 games. The Bells fought to finish second in the WCAL after winning six straight against division opponents and not being defeated in regulation for 12 games coming into this championship matchup.
To begin the game, the Trojans had an advantage in possession. They had many attempts towards goal with forward Willy Miranda crossing to Juan Martinez in the eighth minute and Miranda striking a heavy shot in the 16th minute.
Bellarmine also had some excellent scoring chances as well. Forward Evan Helkowski hit a shot just wide to begin the game and forward James Esteban crossed a perfect ball to Ben Hughes which was headed just over the crossbar in the 18th minute.
Alisal struck first on an unfortunate mishap for Bellarmine. The Bells had one defender back on a long ball played deep into their territory, but he tripped and tried to recover, but it was too late.
Vasquez picked up the loose ball just outside the goal box and with goalkeeper James Gaffey off his line, slotted the ball into the far corner to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead midway through the first half.
Bellarmine midfielder Marco Saglimbeni tried to get his team back in the game. After Alisal scored, he dribbled into the the side of the goal box and hit a shot that was saved by Trojans’ goalkeeper Fabian Narez.
Alisal increased its lead to 2-0 on a free kick by Vasquez to the left side of the goal that was headed in by defender Juan Iturbe.
With the score 2-0, the Bells desperately tried to get something going offensively. A scramble in the Alisal box with the Bells’ Saglimbeni left Narez and a defender shaken up on the play. The Bells thought there was a handball, but the call stood, and at halftime, it remained 2-0 in favor of Alisal.
To begin the second half, Bellarmine came out on the offensive. A free kick by Aldama was pushed over the crossbar in the 46th minute and another strike by Saglimbeni was saved in the 60th minute.
The Bells finally broke through midway through the second half. DeQuiroz was tripped in the box after a nice setup by Saglimbeni and a penalty kick was awarded.
Alisal goalkeeper Andy Camacho, who came in to start the second half, dove left but DeQuiroz chipped a shot into the right corner to pull the Bells within a goal, 2-1.
The Bells tried to push up offensively to tie the game, but this tactic left them vulnerable in the back. Alisal struck on a counter when Luis Duenas chipped in a left-footed cross to Miranda, who was all alone in front of the goal and scored easily to make it 3-1 with just a few minutes left.
Afterward, Saglimbeni put the season in perspective.
“We started off bad, but we won a national tournament in San Diego which gave us a ton of confidence," Saglimbeni said. "We came back to league and weren’t ready to play and it showed in our first half of WCAL play. Then, in the second half, we buckled down, worked hard, and got our streak going.”
Saglimbeni was also impressed with how his team made it all the way to the CCS championship against a very talented Alisal squad.
“We came back from the rough start to the season and we kept battling," Saglimbeni said.
Bellarmine coach Patrick Lowney is very optimistic for his team next season.
“I’m really excited. We have some youth on our team with 16 guys looking to return next season," Lowney said. "There’s a true upswing in the talent in our program with the junior varsity and freshmen winning WCAL. This was a tough day, but it’s a good day. Every day is a good day in Bellarmine soccer.”
Both teams will look forward to an offseason of training and conditioning and hopefully a trip back to the CCS championship next season.