A breakthrough season for the Bishop Diego High boys’ soccer team ended in a 1-0 loss to San Dimas in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 7 playoffs on Saturday afternoon at the UCSB Recreation Center Field.
Sophomore defender Stephen Cox delivered the decisive goal in the 78th minute with a right-footed shot from 22-yards out that ricocheted off the cross bar and down into goal.
“I feel like it was a pretty even match. Both teams were very strong and we just ended it with a goal,” Cox said. “Our school has never been here and we’re making history as we go.”
The Cardinals captured their fist league title in 21 years and steamrolled their way to the semifinals, outscoring opponents 19-4 through the first three rounds of the playoffs. However, Bishop Diego could not find a goal when it needed it most against San Dimas.
Several Bishop Diego players battled the flu throughout the week and collectively they could not muster the energy to put forth their best offensive performance.
“If effort won games we would have won that game as well,” said Bishop Diego coach Mick Luckhurst. “We were a mash unit before the game with some flu bug going on and people just feeling really bad.
“That’s no excuse they just couldn’t quite give their game.”
The Cardinals had two golden opportunities at goal in the first half. Bishop Diego leading scorer Jack Luckhurst attempted a free kick from 25-yards out that slammed off the crossbar. Adam Luckhurst was first to the rebound, but his header went wide.
In the 30th minute Bishop Diego put immense pressure on San Dimas and forced a bad pass back to the goalkeeper. Jack Luckhurst collected the loose ball, but his shot at an empty goal went over the post.
“We had two open goals. We headed one to the side and kicked one over the post both from six yards out,” Mick Luckhurst said. “You can’t do that in the semifinal and win.”
Michael Luckhurst picked up two yellow cards in the second half and Bishop Diego was forced to play a man down for about eight minutes when San Dimas’ Derek Covarrubias received his second yellow card to even the playing field in the 72nd minute.
In the final minute of play Jack Luckhurst was fouled resulting in a free kick just outside the box. Luckhurst appeared to be well inside the box at the time of the foul, which should have resulted in a penalty kick. The ensuing free kick was cleared by the San Dimas defense, which resulted in the final whistle.