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Boys Soccer

Carpinteria Carves Up Granite Hills, Advances to CIF Soccer Finals

Vincent Gonzalez has a goal, assist, as Warriors control top-seeded team in Division 6

Angel Orozco is mobbed by Vincent Gonzalez and Gabe Barajas after giving Carpinteria a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute. Click to view larger
Angel Orozco is mobbed by Vincent Gonzalez and Gabe Barajas after giving Carpinteria a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute.  (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Carpinteria dominated top-seeded Granite Hills and rolled into the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 boys soccer semifinals with a 3-0 victory on a chilly Tuesday night at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium

The Warriors advance to their first CIF championship game since 2011 and will play Rubidoux on Saturday. The venue will be announced by the CIF on Wednesday.

“You know we haven’t lost at home this whole season,” Carpinteria coach Leonardo Quintero said. “This play we’ve created, this atmosphere, this chemistry we have, it has to do with hard work over the season and the guys believing in themselves — it shows on the scoreboard. We’ve scored three goals in all four of our postseason games.

“Different players keep scoring, different players keep contributing and it’s a testament to the hard work that not only the guys but the assistant coaches and everybody involved has been putting in all season.”

Carpinteria (14-2-5) was rarely threatened by a Granite Hills team that came into the game with a 28-1-1 record. The Cougars were most dangerous on set pieces, but the Warrior defense, led by center backs Eddie Mendoza and Alex Ramirez, cleared the dangerous corner kicks, throw-ins and free kicks.

One ball that got through the defense, a header by 6-foot-2 Adam del Toro on a Granite Hills corner kick, was saved just below the cross bar by goalkeeper Cristian Estrada in the 46th minute.

Carpinteria jumped on the Cougars in the ninth minute on a long ball from Mendoza. He found Vincent Gonzalez in the penalty free and Gonzalez knocked a diagonal ball to an on-rushing Angel Orozco for the goal.

“I just barely got by the keeper and we had somebody come up and clean it up,” said Gonzalez of the play.

“It’s beautiful see,” Quintero said of the combination work by his players. “The game is beautiful in itself and when these guys create certain plays it intensifies the excitement.”

Gabe Barajas rips a shot for Carpinteria’s third goal in the 78th minute. Click to view larger
Gabe Barajas rips a shot for Carpinteria’s third goal in the 78th minute.  (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Gonzalez made it 2-0 in the 35th minute, finishing a centering pass from right halfback Solomon Noohakaika. 

“The ball was bouncing around and, just like the last game, I went straight forward and kicked it into the back of the net. It was a solid strike, it was good,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has stepped up his game in the playoffs. The goal was his fourth in the last three games.

“He was kind of a diamond in the rough leading up to the season. The coaching staff polished him up, worked on his first touch and he’s really developed in the last four games,” said Quintero.

Carpinteria continued to control play in the second half. Alex Ramirez came close to scoring in the 48th minute, blasting a 25-yard shot off the cross bar.

The Warriors put the game out of reach in the 78th minute on an overlapping run by Noohakaika on the right wing. He crossed the ball to Gabe Barajas in the penalty area and Barajas finished the play with crushing shot into the back of the net.

Quintero said Noohakaika started out as a right fullback and moved up to the outside midfield five games ago. 

“Figuring out pieces of the puzzle, we were finally able to find that spot for him,” said Quintero. “He’s been working out great. I think he’s got three or four assists throughout the playoffs. He’s been working out there.”

Now the Warriors are headed to the finals.

“They deserve it,” Quintero said. “I’ve been coaching six years and we’ve been waiting for this moment. It’s finally here and now we have one more game to finish it off.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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