Edgar Mendoza provided the offensive punch with a spectacular first half goal and Carpinteria held on for a 1-0 victory over Santa Ynez in a CIF-SS Division 4 wildcard match on Tuesday night.
It has been an up and down season for Carpinteria, which captured the CIF-SS Division 6 championship as well as the state title last season. The Warriors are once again hot at the right time, having won five straight matches going into a first-round contest at Foothill League co-champion Valencia.
“I think our guys in the second half of league play leading up to the playoffs have really lasered in on what needs to be done. I think we were a little bit distracted the first five games and obviously the record shows it,” said Carpinteria coach Leo Quintero. “The record speaks for itself in my opinion and obviously we have been able to be more possessive of the game.”
Santa Ynez produced some impressive results over the last month of the season in Channel League play and defeated Carpinteria 5-2 in a non-league match on December 15th. However, Carpinteria was a different challenge entirely in Tuesday’s single elimination wildcard match.
“Just a little bit more intensity. That game we were coming off a game the night before. It was a Saturday game, the guys were a little relaxed,” said Quintero of his team’s non-league loss to Santa Ynez. “We told them tonight, ‘this isn’t a Saturday game and this isn’t a preseason game so come out here 100-percent high speed and come out to win.”
The key to the Carpinteria victory was an early goal by Mendoza, who took a free-kick from 35 yards out and smashed it off the crossbar and down into goal in the 20th minute. Up until that point the Warriors were controlling possession, but also appeared vulnerable to the Santa Ynez counterattack.
“I was trying to get a rebound off the keeper and try to get my teammates to score, but it came off even better actually,” Mendoza said. “It hit off the crossbar and went in.”
Carpinteria tried to remain aggressive for the remainder of the match while clinging to a 1-0 lead, but as the match went on Santa Ynez began to pick up steam. In the 52nd minute a right-footed shot by Santa Ynez forward Luiz Gonzalez went off the post and out for a goal kick.
In the 63rd minute Mendoza had an opportunity to increase the Carpinteria lead to 2-0 with a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box, but his attempt went off the crossbar and out. Sam Villa nearly found the equalizer in the 70th minute, but his left-footed shot from a difficult angle went into the side netting.
The Warriors enjoyed excellent performances from defenders, Mendoza, Alex Ramirez and Alberto Arroyo along the back line as well as goalkeeper Adrian Gonzalez, who recorded his second consecutive shutout.
“It’s incredible to see these guys really mature throughout the season,” Quintero said. “The playoffs bring the best out of everybody.”