A memorable season came to a gut wrenching conclusion for the San Marcos High boys soccer team after a 1-1 (5-4 PK’s) loss to Norwalk in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs on Saturday.
The Royals came into the match unbeaten and fresh off their first outright Channel League title since 2002, but struggled to put the ball away despite controlling the run of play and putting unrelenting pressure on the Norwalk goal.
“This is a heartbreaking finish considering how we controlled the match,” said San Marcos coach Paul McLean. “We had better players all over the field, created good chances, but didn’t get the result.”
Norwalk forward Erick Velasco took advantage of a loose ball that slipped through two San Marcos defenders and deflected off his teammate before he ripped a shot into the back of the net in the 8th minute.
The early goal allowed the host Lancers (9-3 overall, 6-2 Suburban League) to put numbers back on defense and they did an excellent job defending in the final third of the field.
“Honestly it’s hard to know how your team is going to react in a big situation, a big game, and they actually came through more than I expected,” said Norwalk coach Vinson Pluma. “(San Marcos) has so many tall guys and our guys are small. We had maybe one or two guys that could battle in the air and I guess the main focus for us is that everybody banded together and tried to do as much as they could for their height.”
San Marcos trailed 1-0 as the second half clock melted away. Just when it seemed the equalizing goal would never come, Caden Vom Steeg collected a header that his brother, Jared Vom Steeg, sent across the box and put the ball away in stoppage time.
“I knew the goal would come,” McLean said. “I didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but our players continued to believe.”
After both teams went scoreless in the two overtime periods Norwalk goalkeeper Miguel Duran was able to deflect away Caden Vom Steeg’s penalty shot to secure the victory. It was the only stop by either goalkeeper.