A perfectly executed set piece in sudden-death double overtime sent the No. 1 seeded San Luis Obispo boys soccer team tumbling out of the CIF-Central Section Division I quarterfinals on Friday night.
Ninth-seeded South of Bakersfield had played on its heels for most of the game, doing just enough to keep the Tigers from finding the back of the net. The Rebels’ best chances of the night came on set pieces, and with just seconds to go before penalty kicks, they made a corner kick count.
A dummy run by a South player pulled several Tigers defenders out from the front of goal and left a ball at the top of the 6-yard box, which Edgar Guzman hit just over the hand of goalkeeper Lucas Berryman into the top-left corner, pinging off the underside of the crossbar.
Berryman had made a spectacular diving save at the end of the first overtime on an earlier South set piece to keep the Tigers in the game.
“You see it all the time, from the top-flights all the way down to youth soccer,” head coach James Boscaro said. “The better team doesn’t always win, and that was the case tonight.”
The Tigers had only a handful of shots on goal — many sailed wide. They held possession for much of the game, while South dropped all but one player back behind the ball to defend. The possession didn’t translate into goals or many meaningful chances.
The loss marked a disappointing end of the season in which the Tigers reclaimed their vacated league title — lost after forfeiting 10 games due to a rules violation — and went 20-2-1 overall.
“We were playing for the seniors last year. They didn’t have a chance to play in CIF,” Boscaro said. “We had that opportunity this year. So as great as the league championship was, this hurts.”
“We didn’t see the game going this way. It’s going to take awhile to get over this one.”
San Luis Obispo will lose five seniors to graduation, notably forward Branden Dolezal, who will play for UC Santa Barbara next season. However, the majority of the team will return next season, with the lingering memory of two disappointing seasons.
Other CIF-CS boys soccer playoff games involving SLO County teams
Arroyo Grande 3, Golden Valley 0 (first-round, Wednesday)
Arroyo Grande vs. Central (Saturday)
Dinuba 2, Atascadero 1 (first-round, Wednesday)
Templeton 3, Washington Union 0 (first-round, Wednesday)
Tulare Union 3, Templeton 2 (second-round, Friday)
Lemoore 4, Nipomo 0 (first-round, Wednesday)
Tulare Union 3, Morro Bay 0 (first-round, Wednesday)