Misting rain shorted out the scoreboard just before kickoff at Long Beach Cabrillo High.
The Jaguar offense lit it up anyways.
First-half goals from Eduardo Mosqueda and Arnold Giron staked No. 2-seeded Cabrillo to a 4-1 victory over Fountain Valley Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
The Jaguars (20-2-4) move on to their first semifinal in program history. That will take place Saturday at Riverside Poly, which topped No. 3 Newbury Park in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.
The Barons bow out this season with a 16-7 record.
Cabrillo applied the offensive pressure early and often, using speed and passing to open avenues in the Fountain Valley backline. Barons goalkeeper Dylan Sprangel broke up a pair of opportunities to prevent an early score.
Mosqueda darted past the defense and knocked the ball past Sprangel for the 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Four minutes later, Giron, a sophomore, controlled a pass from Leonardo Corona to tack on another goal.
“We’ve said for three or four weeks that we haven’t put a complete game together yet,” Cabrillo coach Pat Noyes said. “Today was our most complete game … I feel like we’ve been building. I don’t think we could’ve played better.”
Noyes acknowledged only one blemish: the first postseason goal allowed by the Jaguars.
Barons sophomore striker Sebastian Rus cut the lead to 2-1 with a defender on his back in the 32nd minute.
Rus tallied three goals and an assist through three postseason contests. The same offense that scored five goals in a 5-2 second-round triumph against Riverside King rarely found other scoring chances.
Nonetheless, Fountain Valley coach Jason Smith appreciated how his team responded to the early onslaught.
“I figured that we’d gotten back in it at 2-1,” he said. “They were just too much for us today. We didn’t play well, but a lot of that was they made us not play well. They put us under a lot of pressure and made us make mistakes.”
The Barons hung tight for the first 20 minutes of the second half, as Cabrillo peppered Sprangel with several shots just outside the box. He recorded one of his four saves with an acrobatic tip off a Brayan Valenzuela laser to the upper-left corner of the net.
The Fountain Valley defense finally broke in the 61st minute, as Jonny Riquer converted for the third goal from over 30 yards away. After Sprangel broke up two point-blank opportunities over the next 12 minutes, Valenzuela scored for the final margin.
Noyes said his team’s preparation for the wet conditions facilitated the continued execution on offense.
“I didn’t feel like [Fountain Valley] could string together passes like we could,” Noyes said. “Wet turf is perfect. I was telling Jason … that we water the field before every game, even when it’s hot.”
Fountain Valley lost 1-0 to Downey in the first round last season. Smith, whose Barons placed second in the Wave League at 4-2, acknowledged his team’s growth this season.
“We’re young,” said Smith, adding that he expects to lose only three starters. “There’s no reason we can’t get back to a game like this and even beyond with what we have coming back.”
SAM DODGE is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @samgododge