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Offensive outburst sends Estancia boys’ soccer over Costa Mesa

Estancia's Kevin Flores (11) reacts after scoring as  Brandon Garcia (12), John Uchytil (14) and Felix Solis (10) celebrate.
Estancia’s Kevin Flores (11) reacts to scoring a goal as teammates Brandon Garcia (12), John Uchytil (14) and Felix Solis (10) join the celebration.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Three days ago, the Estancia High School boys’ soccer team did not have a single win this season.

After back-to-back victories to open Orange Coast League play, the Eagles have the wind beneath their wings, their playoff hopes revived by a strong start to the season’s most crucial stretch.

Kevin Flores and Felix Solis each scored two goals, and Estancia rode a five-goal first half to a 6-2 win over rival Costa Mesa at home on Friday night.

“It was pretty rough … starting the season, but we managed to keep going, learning from our mistakes, and from that, we managed to get a good win against our rivals,” Flores said. “Honestly, it felt great.”

Costa Mesa's Gabriel Garcia (13) and Estancia's Cruz Valdovinos do battle in the midfield for ball control on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Estancia (2-9-1, 2-0 in the Orange Coast League) scored in rapid succession, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first 12 minutes.

In a 10-minute stretch, Costa Mesa (3-9-4, 0-2) threatened to tighten the contest. Christian Guzman scored in the 18th minute. Then on a free kick from the top of the box, Gabriel Garcia’s left-footed strike rocketed past the left post in the 27th minute.

Again, Estancia found the back of the net with a flurry of offensive activity. Brandon Garcia was the finisher on the Eagles’ fourth goal in the 31st minute, striking a ball that was hip-high when he took the shot following a corner-kick clearance by the Mustangs.

Three minutes later, Garcia made a run down the left side, leaving a drop pass for John Uchytil. Costa Mesa goalkeeper Ethan Smithlin (five saves) made the initial stop, but Flores was there to deposit the rebound.

Estancia's Brandon Garcia (12) shoots and scores from the box on Friday.
Estancia’s Brandon Garcia (12) shoots and scores from the box on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Costa Mesa closed the gap to 5-2 going into halftime, courtesy of a top-shelf shot by Nathan Rocha.

Coming out of the break, the Eagles dashed the Mustangs’ hopes of a comeback, adding on in the 44th minute. Richard Cervantes possessed the ball in transition, crossing the ball for Solis, who needed just one touch to complete the finish.

“At first I was really nervous when I came in here,” Solis, a four-year varsity player, said of facing Costa Mesa at home for the last time. “Once we got that first goal in, I knew I was going to start coming up. I knew we were going to run up our goals. I knew it was going to be a [win].”

Cervantes also scored a goal for Estancia, which is scheduled to play at Saddleback (7-2-3, 1-0-1) on Wednesday. Cesar Pedroza made six saves to earn the win.

Estancia's Brandon Garcia (12) celebrates a goal during the Battle for the Bell boys' soccer match against Costa Mesa.
Estancia’s Brandon Garcia (12) celebrates a goal during the Battle for the Bell boys’ soccer match against Costa Mesa on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Estancia coach Robert Castellano said his team enjoyed getting in the win column this week, but he is urging his players to focus in on the goals ahead, even in the immediate aftermath of a win against their crosstown rival.

“That’s what I told them, I’m like, ‘Hey, this is one game out of 10,’” Castellano said. “Two games with eight games to go, Mesa’s not the goal. Getting to playoffs is the goal. Going for third place, and then after we get third place, we go for second.

“After second, we go for first. I kind of tried to get them to curve their emotions today. As you can see, it was pretty tough.”

Costa Mesa will also be on the road for its next match, as the Mustangs line up Wednesday against Calvary Chapel (2-6, 0-1). The Mustangs had shown signs of progress in the Laguna Hills Hawks Invitational, a tournament in which they went 1-0-2.

Costa Mesa's Nathan Rocha (19) and Estancia's Alex DeLeon do battle in the midfield for ball control on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“It was the composure of the team,” Costa Mesa coach Santiago Guzman said of what he attributed that success to. “We were composed. We were motivated that we were playing Division 1 and Division 2 schools.

“We knocked the ball around the field. We didn’t let them have the ball, versus now, I think it was more us not getting control of the ball.”

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