Kino Oaxoca, Esperanza High School boys’ soccer coach, is going home Saturday. And it’s because his Aztecs beat Coachella Valley, 2-0, in the Southern Section 2-A semifinals Tuesday at Esperanza High School.
Oaxoca, a second-year coach, graduated from Gahr High School, where as a sophomore in 1973 he started the soccer program. That’s the site of the soccer finals on Saturday, where unseeded Esperanza will play Central.
“We were just happy to be here (in the semifinals),” Oaxoca said of his lightly regarded club that placed just one player (Darin Martinez) on the all-Empire League team.
“If we can go farther, it’s just a bonus,” he said.
They earned a bonus, then.
Esperanza (16-3-2) has pieced together eight consecutive victories, including three in the playoffs, recorded 12 shutouts over the course of the season, and has not allowed a goal at home all season.
The Aztecs’ first goal came 16 minutes into the game. Senior defender Bryan Young headed the ball from midfield back to the goalie box, where junior forward Mike Voss controlled it and crossed it into the left corner of the net.
Esperanza, which used a size advantage throughout, sealed the victory midway through the second half when Martinez powered a goal through the Arab defense to make it 2-0.
“We’re strong and go hard,” Oaxoca said. “We try to keep it on the ground as much as possible.”
Coachella Valley Coach Hector Mestas saw the game differently and said he thought the Aztecs were too rough and accused Esperanza of dirty play.
“They hit from behind, drive with their legs and pushed their way through,” Mestas said. “That’s not our game.
“We’re just the best-kept secret in Orange County,” Oaxoca said. “That’s the way we play. Just hard, rough-tough soccer. Not dirty.