For the first 20 minutes of Wednesday’s match between the Reseda High and Poly boys’ soccer teams, the participants actually played.
After that, it turned into . . .
“A brawl,” said Reseda forward Alex Acevedo, who missed 30 minutes of the match after having his nose bloodied by an opponent’s elbow.
Reseda won, 5-1, to capture its second Valley Pac-8 Conference title in three seasons. But at times the aggressive play resembled a rumble between the Sharks and the Jets of West Side Story rather than a match between the Regents (14-1-1, 12-1) and the host Parrots (9-1-3, 9-1-3).
Elbows, kicks and insults were traded freely, leading to 13 yellow cards and a red card issued for rough play--10 to Poly. Reseda’s Rocky Monzon and Poly’s Juan Vega, Jose Torres and Erik Calvillo were ejected.
During the postgame handshake, Reseda’s Hector Estrada collapsed on the ground, crying and clutching his groin. Estrada said he was punched by a Poly player.
Moments later, Poly players and supporters briefly blocked the Regents’ exit from the campus but an altercation was averted when officials from each school intervened.
“This is awful; I hate violence,” said Poly Coach Win Hainbuch, whose team beat Reseda earlier in the season. “The first [match] we kept our emotions in check but this time things just got out of hand.”
After a scoreless first half, Reseda opened the scoring in the 48th minute. Oscar Sims passed to Jesse Servin on the right side of the penalty area and Servin banked the ball off the left post and into the net.
Reseda went up, 2-0, in the 53rd minute when Acevedo converted a penalty kick for his 15th goal. Poly’s Tony Suarez scored in the 60th minute but Reseda answered with goals by Monzon, Nelson Pinto and Marvin Quijano in the final 14 minutes.
Poly was hurt by the absence of midfielder Mario Ceja, who was ejected from the Parrots’ last match. But even with Ceja, Poly would have been hard-pressed to handle the fired-up Regents.
“Last time we didn’t take them seriously and they were more prepared,” said Reseda’s Quijano, who was ejected along with Acevedo and Poly’s Alex Miron in the teams’ first meeting. “This time we worked a lot more in practices and talked all the time about keeping our heads.”
The Parrots’ David Estrada, a forward with 13 goals who moved to Ceja’s midfield position Wednesday, said his team wilted early in the second half.
“I guess we just gave up after the first goal,” Estrada said. “This was the game to win and I’m disappointed.”