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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 8:12 am | Fair 44º

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

Santa Barbara High Boys Soccer Advances to CIF Final

Senior Peter Ruiz scored in the last minute of the second overtime, lifting Santa Barbara High to a 1-0 CIF Division 1 semifinal boys soccer win over fourth-seeded Los Alamitos on Tuesday.

The Dons advance to the Division 1 championship game on Friday or Saturday against third-seeded Loyola, which defeated Warren in a shootout.

Ruiz, who missed all of the preseason recovering from surgery for a dislocated knee, scored off an assist from Adam Chenoweth. The play capped a quick counterattack.

"I think in the overtime we had a little bit more left in the tank than they did," said Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil.

Santa Barbara's defense cleared the ball and the Dons took off running. The ball was kicked away at the top of the 18-yard box, but Ruiz recovered it and laid it off to Guillermo Mendoza. Mendoza crossed to Chenoweth, who wound up for a shot but mis-hit the ball. It bounced between two defenders and ended up at the feet of Ruiz, who was on side. Ruiz calmly hit a shot on the ground that beat the Los Alamitos goalkeeper inside the right post.

After playing a quick and fast Paramount team, the Dons ran into a Los Alamitos that played physical and was organized. The Griffins (19-4-5) were especially dangerous on set pieces, but Santa Barbara goalkeeper Juan Santana was up to the task.

"They really want to put pressure on the keeper and on the back line and they did that. But "Paulie came up huge. Paulie had probably his best game tonight," said Heil.

For Ruiz to score the game winner was something special. He twice suffered a dislocated kneecap during the club season, had surgery during the late summer and rehabbed the knee during the first four months of school.  He didn't play until the Channel League opener against San Marcos in January.

"That goal may have put an exclamation point on his season," Heil said. "His first goal couldn't have been a bigger one. It's pretty incredible. Peter's got a great finish and he's very technical inside the 18 and he tucked it away."

Santa Barbara (22-5-3) will be making its first Division 1 final since 2011. Santa Barbara has won six CIF-Southern Section titles and one regional title in its history. The Dons will be going to their fourth section final under Coach Todd Heil, who is 2-1 in finals. He won a Division 3 title in 2001, the Division 2 crown in 2010 and lost in the Division 1 final in 2011. The Dons rebounded and won the Division 2 State Regional title that year.

It's been an amazing playoff run for Santa Barbara. In the second round, the Dons won at Santa Margarita on a golden goal by Brandon Sanchez in double overtime. They'd lost there the two previous years in the second round. Next, they came from behind to beat No. 1 Paramount 3-2 at Peabody Stadium.

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