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Boys Soccer

Carpinteria Caps History-Making Season As CIF Regional Champion

Warriors score two goals in last 10 minutes to beat Rubidoux, 4-2, and complete CIF Soccer double

Soloman Noohakaika (center) is mobbed by teammates after giving Carpinteria a 1-0 lead just before halftime. Click to view larger
Soloman Noohakaika (center) is mobbed by teammates after giving Carpinteria a 1-0 lead just before halftime. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Carpinteria High’s boys soccer season went from dealing with duo disasters of fire and floods to achieving the CIF soccer double.

The Warriors capped a wild and unpredictable season by beating Rubidoux, 4-2, in the CIF SoCal Regional Division 5 championship game before a big, boisterous crowd on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium.

The Warriors hoist the CIF State Regional Championship plaque. They are the first county soccer team to win CIF section and regional titles in the same season Click to view larger
The Warriors hoist the CIF State Regional Championship plaque. They are the first county soccer team to win CIF section and regional titles in the same season (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

It was Carpinteria’s second straight championship game victory against Rubidoux. Last week, the Warriors won 3-2 in overtime in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 title game.

Carpinteria becomes the county’s first school to capture section and regional soccer titles in the same season.

"Never four months ago did I imagine we’d be in this position where we’re at right now," said head coach Leonardo Quintero. "It’s been an incredible run by the coaching staff, by the kids, by the community. They really came out and supported us. They really carried us throughout these playoffs."

Assistant coach Jerry Rodriguez said the team's work ethic made a huge difference.

"I really wanted to do something big this year, so everybody that was on the team, whether they were on the bench or a starter, it was just a big team effort, and the work ethic was what brought everything together."

He added there was extra motivation to play for a championship on their home field. "We’ve never played for a championship at home. They were excited, they wanted to come out here for a win. It was just their hunger and heart, that’s what got them through."

The Warriors won the regional title by playing with grit and a never-quit attitude. They took a 2-0 lead, saw Rubidoux tie the score on a pair of free kicks and then finished off the Falcons with a pair of goals in the last 10 minutes of the game.

Their outstanding performance came in a steady rain, which made the grass field slippery. But that didn’t faze the Warriors. They still managed to knock the ball around and pressure Rubidoux’s defense all game.

Luis Garcia was the catalyst behind the attack.

"I got to give it out to my teammates," Garcia said. "We worked hard for this. We got the result that we wanted."

Garcia, who moved from the center to outside midfield, assisted on three goals, including the game winner, and gave Rubidoux fits with his aggressive play.

'He wanted to play that spot today," assistant coach Jerry Rodriguez said. "He saw a little bit of a weakness on that side, so he said, ‘Hey coach, can you put me on that side?’ I said, ‘Sure, let’s see what you got.’"

Said Quintero: "We were able too capitalize on his leadership and his experience."

The game was scoreless until the 39th minute when midfielder Soloman Noohakaika collected a pass at the top of the penalty area from teammate Jose Jimenez, took a dribble and ripped a left-footed shot that deflected off a defender and past Rubidoux goalkeeper Israel Mendoza for a 1-0 lead.

"I didn’t expect it," Noohakaika said modestly. "I just shot it because I was getting pressured. I got some luck and it went in."

Noohakaika was the hero in the section title win over Rubidoux, scoring the game-winner off a long throw that deflected off a defender for an own goal.

Jose Jimenez pulls up his jersey to display a message for teammate Marco Villarreal, who was critically injured in a car accident on January 2. Click to view larger
Jose Jimenez pulls up his jersey to display a message for teammate Marco Villarreal, who was critically injured in a car accident on January 2. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

"I was telling the other coaches today, ‘Soloman is due for a goal,’ said Rodriguez. "The last game on Thursday, he hit the side post. And this time I had a feeling he was going to get a goal and that’s what happened."

Carpinteria’s Vincent Gonzalez made it took a 2-0 in the 53rd minute, rising above Rubidoux defenders and burying Garcia’s corner kick with a powerful header.

Rubidoux got back in the game on Rafael Arroyo’s well-taken free kicks. His first one from 25 yards skidded off the wet field and went off goalkeeper Cristian Estrada in the 58th minute. The second, coming 13 minutes later, was a beautifully struck ball from 18 yards on the left wing.

While shocking to the Carpinteria fans, the soccer team stepped on the gas and came right back at Rubidoux. Garcia led the charge. He stormed up the left side into the attacking third, turned the corner and deftly laid the ball off for Jose Jimenez, who finished with a shot to the far post for a 3-2 lead in the 71s minute.

"It was a great feeling when we scored back, it was awesome," Jimenez said.

On the goal: "I saw (Luis running) and I was yelling his name, hoping he would cross it and he crossed it, and I hit the back of the net," he said.

"We share the ball a lot,  and seeing my teammate score that goal was amazing," said Garcia. "I had faith in my team and I knew we were going to come out with a W."

He said there was no panic after Rubidoux tied the score.

"We kept to our plan," Quintero said. "We knew if we touched the ball the way we’ve touched it all season, we’d come out on the winning side."

Said Garcia: "We just kept on going and never put our heads down. We kept fighting."

Rodriguez said the players learned about keeping their heads in the game after a 4-1 loss to Fillmore back in January.

"After that I tried to get the guys mentally ready. If we’re down, if we’re up, keep the same mentality: go forward," he said. "And that’s what they always do. I saw it in the game today. They were just focused on what they were doing. The two goals that tied us didn’t matter. They kept their composure, pushed forward and that’s what we got, we got the win."

The goal by Jimenez deflated Rubidoux. 

Five minutes later, Garcia was on the attack again, this time in the middle of the field. He fed a through ball to running mate Gabe Barajas, who slipped through the defense and put the ball away before being upended by a sliding goalkeeper.

Barajas and his teammates celebrated by running, diving and sliding on the slick surface as the Carpinteria fans roared.

When the final whistle blew, the players mobbed each other before doing a celebratory dive and slide.

The four goals scored capped a brilliant postseason for the Warriors. They scored three goals in each of their five section tournament wins before being held to one goal in the regional first round and semifinal games. They won the semifinals in a shootout.

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.

Carpinteria’s coaching staff, from left, assistants Ryan Warner and Jerry Rodriguez and head coach Leonardo Quintero, enjoy the moment of winning the CIF State Regional Championship. Click to view larger
Carpinteria’s coaching staff, from left, assistants Ryan Warner and Jerry Rodriguez and head coach Leonardo Quintero, enjoy the moment of winning the CIF State Regional Championship. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

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