SANTA ANA - It will be a while until his next club team practice,
but Newport Harbor High junior forward Jose Serpas will certainly have a
lot to talk about.
Serpas scored both Newport Harbor High goals to lead the visiting
Sailors to a 2-0 victory over a Santa Ana Valley squad that included many
of his club teammates in the first round of the CIF Southern Section
Division II boys soccer playoffs Friday.
Serpas' two goals, both in the second half, equaled his regular-season
total. They also propelled the Sailors (10-7-2) into Tuesday's 3 p.m.
second round against visiting Los Alamitos (23-1-1), the No. 1 seed. Los
Al earned a 4-0 win over Valencia Friday and has now outscored its
Serpas converted with the help of two teammates to open the scoring in
the 61st minute. Marco Camberos began the sequence with a through ball to
streaking teammate Will Guzman. Falcons goalie Luis Aguilar sprinted out
to try to beat Guzman to the ball, but the Sailor sophomore slid to reach
it with his foot. The ball caromed off Aguilar directly in front of the
open net and Serpas poked it home for all the Sailors would need.
Serpas provided insurance in the 77th minute, dribbling in along the
end line and hooking a drive behind a surprised Aguilar, who thought he
had eliminated any scoring angle.
"I saw a little opening and I took it," said Serpas, whose scoring
outburst helped the Tars earn their first postseason triumph since 1997.
"I thought (Serpas) was a little timid in the first half," said
Newport Coach Kevin Esparza, whose squad outshot the hosts, 16-8. "We
created some chances in the first half, but I didn't think our forwards
were active enough. We told them at halftime we wanted more activity up
front and we also pushed our midfielders up to create some pressure. We
felt like if we put some pressure on their back line, they would make
Newport, the Sea View League runner-up, had the better of play most of
the game, including nearly all of the first half.
But the Falcons, who finished second in the Empire League and are
perennial playoff qualifiers, according to Coach Adnan Bayati, came out
strong after intermission.
Valley produced the first four shots of the second half, within the
first 13 minutes after the break, equaling its first-half total.
But sophomore Newport keeper Hector Campos, as well as senior sweeper
Kevin Campos, senior stopper Brandon Gould, and sophomore fullbacks Joel
Walker and Matt Tracy, helped maintain the scoreless deadlock.
Hector Campos finished with four saves, including a spectacular diving
stop in the 17th minute, to help the Tars post their fourth shutout of
the season, their third in their last seven games.
After withstanding a Falcon flurry, Newport began creating the
pressure Esparza talked about at halftime. And, after the first goal, it
appeared Valley lost some intensity.
By extending their season, the Sailors figure to be back at full
strength Tuesday. Esparza said senior Tyson Wahl (back injury) will,
barring a setback, play against the Griffins.
Senior starter Redge Bendheim and senior Adam Kerns are also expected
back after both missed Friday's contest.
"We should be back at full strength for the first time in a while,"
Esparza said. "I felt pretty comfortable coming in here that we could get
through to the second round."
Newport's dominance was also apparent in the Sailors' 9-1 edge in
Esparza said he will try to assemble a scouting report for Los
Alamitos, but noted the home-field advantage (the Tars play on a football
field, which is smaller than a regulation soccer field) will help them
combat the Griffins' supposed speed.