The fact that the Ocean View High boys’ soccer team went 1-20 last season baffles Seahawks coach Lucas Kim.
Although he has only been the head coach of the program since the first week of January, Kim characterized the Seahawks as an “unpolished gem.”
Better results have started to come for the Seahawks, who faced further adversity in the form of a coaching change at midseason. Former Seahawks coach Elmer Chacon, who was in his first year, had his timeline moved up, as he was asked to promptly move to Idaho for a club soccer coaching opportunity.
Ocean View played its first match under the direction of Kim in its Golden West League opener on Jan. 8, and it has not suffered defeat since.
The Seahawks demonstrated their legitimacy as contenders, earning a 1-1 draw against visiting Godinez on Wednesday to round out the first half of league play.
Defending league champion Godinez (11-1-3, 3-0-2; 11 points) came into the contest tied with JSerra for the No. 10 spot in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll. The Grizzlies also advanced to the Division 2 semifinals last season.
“A lot of the hard work that Coach Elmer started with, and now I’m continuing with as I’m taking over the program, the result today shows that we have a seat at the table,” said Kim, who was an assistant under Chacon. “We belong where we’re at in the placement. We didn’t get lucky. We earned every point that we got, and certainly, we look forward to the second half, the second round [of league], to be able to solidify those points and even triple them, if possible.
“I firmly believe, based on today’s result, we have not only a solid chance at league, but certainly a door open for CIF.”
Ocean View (5-8-6, 2-0-3; nine points) had the upset in play against first-place Godinez. The Seahawks created several chances early with Anthony Ruiz and Juan Salazar playing up top.
In the 17th minute, the Seahawks broke through. Center back Nathan Santy took a long throw-in toward the goal. Ruiz redirected the ball just enough to get the ball by Grizzlies goalkeeper Gabriel Contreras (three saves).
“[I] listen to what he is telling me to do, go far post or near post,” Ruiz said of his connection with Santy on the set-piece play. “He told me to go front post, and I went front post, and I scored off the header. It just scraped my head. It didn’t make much contact, but it got enough contact to score.”
From that point, the Seahawks attempted to protect the lead. The Grizzlies saw increased time on the ball at the end of the first half, a trend that continued throughout the remainder of the game.
Godinez outshot Ocean View 7-1 in the second half, putting three of those shots on target. In the 52nd minute, Josue Martinez drew a foul against the Seahawks on the edge of the box. David Jimenez took the free kick, sending it across the box.
Antonio Diaz stopped it, and he assisted on the tying goal by Diego Navarro.
“In general, we started to win more balls in the middle and press higher and press better,” Grizzlies coach Ruben Fernandez said. “We were just sharper, but I think the intensity was the key.
“In the first half, we were late to a lot of the balls. We were not really challenging, and once we fixed that, obviously we have good players, and we can move the ball well.”
Kim said that sitting on the one-goal lead requires everyone to pull in the same direction.
“The issue with sitting back and protecting the lead is now you’re waiting, just coiled up, kind of like a snake,” Kim said. “You’re waiting for the right moment to strike, and if you strike at the wrong time, they’ll cut off your head.
“That’s exactly, I think, what ended up happening to us. As we ended up allowing them to enter our half, the mistakes just kind of started piling up, and it was a domino effect.”
Aimar Herrera made four saves for the Seahawks, who are in third place in the league. Garden Grove (8-9-2, 3-1-1; 10 points) moved into second with Wednesday’s 3-0 shutout of Segerstrom.
Ocean View would have taken over sole possession of first place with a win. Despite the missed opportunity, Santy is excited to be in the hunt.
“Last year, going 1-9 [in the league], it’s kind of nice this year to go five games, play everyone, and not lose a game,” Santy said. “It’s a lot different than last year. Godinez is a CIF championship-[caliber] team, and to tie them is a pretty big honor and a big accomplishment.”
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.