Turnabout a year in the making proved to be fair play Tuesday when the Reseda High boys' soccer team extracted revenge with its 3-0 victory over El Camino Real in a City Section semifinal at El Camino Real.
Reseda entered the playoffs last season as the section's top-seeded team but was upset, 1-0, by 17th-seeded El Camino Real in a second-round game at Reseda. The Conquistadores went on to play in the title game.
Tuesday, the eighth-seeded Regents (15-2-3) used first-half goals by Oscar Sims and Jesse Servin and a second-half strike by Servin to advance to the section final for the first time since they won the 1988 title.
Reseda will play the winner of today's semifinal between 11th-seeded Birmingham and 10th-seeded Bell. Birmingham lost a quarterfinal to third-seeded Poly on Friday but advanced Tuesday morning after City officials removed Poly from the playoffs for using an overage player.
The Regents' formula for success Tuesday hinged on negating El Camino Real's 6-foot-3 stopper Sean Miller, who regularly scores by heading in free kicks, corner kicks and throw-ins. Miller scored in the teams' meeting last season.
"We paid big-time attention to Miller; you have to respect him," said Reseda assistant Terry Davila, the 1988 City player of the year at Reseda. "We won the battle of the set plays today."
Whenever Miller entered the Reseda box, he was fronted by Sims and stalked from behind by Regent sweeper Edwin Miranda.
"They were good at staying with me," Miller said. "I only got two or three headers and [Sims] probably had about seven."
In addition to shutting down Miller, Reseda won a majority of loose balls and was quicker in transition from defense to offense.
"We didn't win balls in the middle of the field," said El Camino Real Coach David Hussey, whose team lost at home for the first time in 23 games. "Then [the Regents] would win a ball and put it right on [a teammate]'s foot."
Reseda scored in the 20th minute, just after Conquistadore center midfielder Kellen McLaughlin left the field after an elbow from Reseda's Carlos Morales chipped one of his teeth.
Right midfielder Ian Kogan replaced McLaughlin and was victimized moments later when Morales sent a low free kick into the El Camino Real box.
Sims, with his back to the goal and Kogan over his shoulder, received the ball and faked left before breaking right. As he ran, he unloaded a shot that landed inside the left post for a 1-0 lead and his 19th goal.
Reseda went up 2-0 seven minutes before halftime when Kenny Zepeda sent a through ball to Servin, who beat goalkeeper Karl Mayr from the right side of the box.
El Camino Real (17-6-2) was only outshot, 17-13. The Conquistadores, seeded fourth, surrendered a breakaway goal by Servin, his 11th, in the final minute.
Reseda, the trendy preseason pick to win the City title, stumbled to second place in the Valley Pac-8 Conference. But the Regents now need to take only one more step to meet those expectations.
"Every day we didn't want to practice we reminded ourselves that we wanted to be playing at [East Los Angeles] College on March 7," Morales said.
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SOUTHERN SECTION SEMIFINALS
Capistrano Valley 2, Hart 0
Mission Viejo 1, Simi Valley 0
Chaminade 1, South Pasadena 0
St. Bonaventure 3, Paraclete 1
Chadwick 1, St. Bonaventure 0
CITY SECTION SEMIFINALS
Chatsworth 2, Granada Hills 0
Westchester 2, Kennedy 1