Saddleback boys' soccer Coach Mel Silva wasn't sure who to blame for his team's 2-0 loss to host Capistrano Valley Friday in the first round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs, the referees or the Cougars.
"It's tough enough to play a good team," he said. "You don't need to have a ref like that who doesn't have the guts to call a card."
Capistrano Valley will play Fontana, which beat Claremont, 2-0, in the quarterfinals Thursday. Saddleback finished 12-6-5.
Silva complained that his players were continually roughed and said Capistrano Valley was not penalized often enough with yellow cards.
"I've got five players over there hurt and no yellow cards were given," Silva shouted. "I've got one kid with a big cut above his eye. Don't get me wrong. Capistrano Valley is a good team and they took advantage of their opportunities."
The fourth-seeded Cougars (16-3-5) actually did receive two yellow cards, but Silva said at least five fouls were missed.
Capistrano Valley Coach Ron Willms wasn't pleased with the officiating either, but he said the calls probably evened out.
"I thought the center referee was terrible," he said. "A couple times, I thought we'd get a foul and we didn't. The same with them."
Ryan Hawkins, who scored the first goal and assisted on the other, said the three officials simply ignored a lot of the aggressive play.
"The refs started letting some stuff go that usually would have been carded," he said.
The referees did not let everything go. They ejected Saddleback's Orlando Suazo midway through the second half for arguing a yellow card and they ejected Saddleback's Ramon Alvarado and Capistrano Valley's Nick Hannay for fighting with 10 minutes left in the game.
Regardless of its problems with the referees, Saddleback lost because it didn't capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities and because of shoddy defense in its end. Saddleback got off 10 shots to Capistrano Valley's seven, but the closest it came to scoring was a ball off the post in the closing minutes.
Meanwhile, Capistrano Valley scored on its first shot, a left-footed volley by Hawkins 15 minutes into the game. Then the Cougars scored again a minute before the half on a Rubin Villalobos tap-in off a perfect cross from Hawkins.
From there, the Cougars simply held on.
"The 2-0 lead is the most dangerous one in soccer," Hawkins said. "It's easy to relax and let them back in it."
In other Division I games:
Fountain Valley 1, Dana Hills 0--Freshman Nick Tolman took a throw-in from Steffin Greenly 32 minutes into the second half and scored the game's only goal. Scott Hainlen had five saves to record his 15th shutout for Fountain Valley (20-3), which plays Simi Valley in the second round.
Edison 2, Santa Ana 1--Brent Garza scored with two minutes left to play to lead Edison (16-5-4). Teammate Todd Marcus had scored three minutes earlier to tie the score.
The Chargers play Simi Valley Royal in the second round.
Simi Valley Royal 3, Mater Dei 1--Greg Bechtold scored Mater Dei's goal. Jessie Garner had two scores and Chris Fernandez added the third for Royal. Mater Dei finished the season 16-6-2.