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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 11:28 pm | Fair 53º

 
 
 
 
Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
Boys Soccer

Bishop Diego’s Best Soccer Season Ends in CIF Semifinals, 1-0

The goals always came for the Bishop Diego boys soccer team during its run to a Tri-Valley League title and in the CIF playoffs.

The Cardinals poured in 19 goals in rolling up three playoff victories. 

In the Division 7 semifinals, however, they couldn’t find the back of the net, and the most successful season in program history came to an end.

San Dimas scored a brilliant goal in the 78th minute and beat Bishop Diego, 1-0, at UCSB’s RecCen turf field on Saturday to deny the Cardinals from playing in their first CIF final next weekend.

The Saints (12-3-7) instead will be making their first finals appearance.

Defender Stephen Cox scored the game winner off a throw-in from deep in the San Dimas attacking third of field. Forward Aidan Ferguson received the ball and tapped it to Cox, who blasted a shot from 22 yards past Bishop goalkeeper Gabe Rodriguez.

“I just saw the ball and I kicked it and saw the goal,” said Cox. “I felt it was an even match. Both teams were very strong and we just ended it with a goal.”

Bishop Diego senior forward Jack Luckhurst generated a great opportunity to equalize in the last minute. He beat a defender on the right side, dribbled toward the 18-yard box and drew foul that appeared to be committed inside the area.

The referee, however, ruled the foul occurred just outside the box, leaving the Cardinals with a free kick. 

San Dimas was able to clear the free kick before the final whistle sounded.

The stunned Bishop players fell to the turf as the Saints mobbed each other in celebration.

It was a stunning way for the season to end for Bishop, which had not been shut out all season.

"All season they’ve given it everything they got," coach Mick Luckhurst said. "They had a brilliant year."

Coach Luckhurst said the team was not feeling its best coming into the game because of illness.

"We were MASH unit before the game. There is some flu bug going around and people are just feeling really bad," he said. "We had three guys that 24 hours ago you would have said they would be out for a week. There’s no excuses, but they just couldn't quite give their game.

"It’s been a tough week but everyone has to deal with adversity," he added. "(The game) could have gone either way."

The Cardinals (14-4) had opportunities to score.

Jack Luckhurst headed a free kick just wide of the far post in the 11th minute. Fifteen minutes later, he hit a free kick from 25 yards off the cross bar.

The best chance came in the 36th minute. Adam Luckhurst was attacking down the right flank and his pressure forced the San Dimas defender to kick the ball toward his goalkeeper. He lifted the ball and it ricocheted off the cross bar.

A stunned goalkeeper Luke Levay tipped the ball and it landed where Jack Luckhurst was crashing on the goal. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Luckhurst didn’t get a direct hit on the ball and it veered wide.

"We had every opportunity to win the game and we didn’t," coach Luckhurst said. "They were a formidable foe — a defensive-minded team — and then they have the quick breakaway. Our back four did a great job against a good, quick couple of guys.

"We had a solid defensive game, just our energy wasn’t there today."

San Dimas created some good scoring chances before the end of the first half. Ferguson blasted a shot on frame from 20 yards that was tipped away by Bishop goalkeeper Gabe Rodriguez in the 37th minute. 

Moments later, Rodriguez saved a good look from Mathias Uribe.

A hustling Bishop defender Daniel Giannini broke up a San Dimas counterattack early in the second half and Rodriguez came up big on a blast from Ferguson on another counter in the 58th minute.

The Cardinals took a hit in 64th minute when Michael Luckhurst was booked with his second yellow card, leaving them down a man with game still scoreless. 

Bishop still attacked and earned a free kick from 22 yards. Jack Luckhurst hit it hard and on goal but Levay was able to parry it away. The Saints then cleared the ensuing corner kick in the 68th minute.

The Cardinals got a break in the 72nd minute when San Dimas forward Derek Covarrubias received his second yellow, leaving each team with 10 players.

With more open space, San Dimas broke out on a counterattack and earned the throw-in that led to the game-winning goal.

Bishop battled back and thought it created a penalty-kick situation on Jack Luckurst’s run.

But the Cardinals didn’t get the call and their history-making season came to an end.

"They were solid," coach Luckhurst said of the Saints. "But we just didn’t have it. You look at Jack’s game today, he just couldn’t get his engine going. Adam didn’t have an engine at all — he didn’t have any energy.

"That changes what you can do up front because it’s the energy that makes it happen."

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