Simi Valley High expected a cakewalk to the title Friday night in its 4-A Southern Section soccer championship match against unheralded Alta Loma. Instead, it got a pie in the face.
Unveiling a heady offensive performance and showing unexpected speed, Alta Loma pulled off the first upset of the two-day soccer finals at Gahr High's Hanford Rants Stadium with a 1-0 victory in the boys final.
Simi Valley was seeded No. 1 in the tournament and had scored four goals in each of its three previous playoff matches. And the Pioneers entered the game undefeated at 25-0-4. But Alta Loma played inspired soccer, apparently unaffected by Simi Valley's reputation.
Junior midfielder Tim Sowers stunned Simi Valley with the lone goal just 40 seconds into the second half.
"They scored one goal and made good on it," said Simi Valley Coach Andy Silva, as he cradled his runner-up plaque. "Their keeper kept them in the game all day. I can't deny that."
The Southern Section doesn't hand out a player of the game award, but it if did, it would have belonged to Brave goalie Michael Collins. The 5-9 junior led a stiff defense that, although pressured at times by Simi Valley, never let down.
"I can't say enough about him," said Alta Loma Coach Peter Gunby. "All year long he's been doing that. He got us here by making two saves like those against Torrance in the quarterfinals."
In the final 10 minutes, Collins blocked six shots--three on breakaways--and forced two more wide of the goal.
Simi held the shooting advantage after the first 40 minutes, 8-6. Ricky Acuna of Simi Valley had the best early scoring opportunity, but a header 22:30 into the match bounced off the crossbar. Eight minutes later, a 25-yard shot by midfielder Vic Danzo of Alta Loma was blocked and seconds later Acuna missed another header that sailed over the net.