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Estancia blanks Huntington Beach in CIF Division 2 opener

The end of last season taught the Estancia High boys’ soccer team a lot about the agony of defeat.

A controversial penalty kick resulted in the Eagles’ dropping a second-round playoff contest at La Quinta.

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Those returning for Estancia know all too well that undesirable outcomes can occur when a match is kept close. The way that the Eagles played in the second half of their CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff opener on Thursday night showed that the lesson has been learned.

Estancia scored three goals after halftime, and the Eagles earned a 4-0 shutout at Huntington Beach in the first round.

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Estancia High's Omar Martinez, left, and Brian Alvarez, center, celebrate with Jesse Mejia after Mejia scored a goal in the second half at Huntington Beach in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Thursday.
Estancia High's Omar Martinez, left, and Brian Alvarez, center, celebrate with Jesse Mejia after Mejia scored a goal in the second half at Huntington Beach in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Thursday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Benjamin Nava, Jesse Mejia, Gerardo Camberos and Brian Alvarez scored for the Eagles (15-6-3). Marcos Arreola had three assists, and Victor Jacinto made four saves.

The Eagles got on the scoreboard in the 18th minute. Arreola sprinted in off the left wing. He took a shot, and Nava was there to clean up the rebound.

Huntington Beach had an opportunity to draw even in the 37th minute. Liam Wilder made a right-side run, crossing the ball to Justin Fujimori, who had his bid stopped by Jacinto. The Eagles goalkeeper dove to his right, pushing the rebound outside the left post to leave the Oilers no angle to shoot at.

“Whenever I’m in a one-on-one situation, I usually like to wait and try to react to where he decides to go,” Jacinto said. “Once I saw that he went with the cross instead of finishing, I knew that I had to get over to the second post.

“I knew that if I cut off the angle enough in time, I would get there. I feel like adrenaline took over there a bit, knowing that that could be a crucial save in the game.”

Estancia High goalkeeper Victor Jacinto blocks a shot from Huntington Beach's Justin Fujimori in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Thursday.
Estancia High goalkeeper Victor Jacinto blocks a shot from Huntington Beach's Justin Fujimori in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on Thursday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Oilers (9-14-3) had another chance to tie the score in the 42nd minute. Cesar Cerda took a corner kick from the left flag. Brandon Bui got to the airborne cross for a header. It went off the left post, and the ball caromed back into the arms of Jacinto.

Estancia struck for goals in the 44th and 46th minutes, extending its lead to 3-0. Mejia, a sophomore left back, activated to score off a grounded cross from Miguel Pena.

“We used to not start like this, our first halves [especially], but we realized that it’s CIF, so I guess we started preparing our game [plan] in our minds,” Mejia said. “We were ready for the game.”

Then Arreola unleashed a header that Louis Penaflor was able to make the initial save on, but Camberos crashed the net for the Eagles’ third goal.

“I feel since we’ve been in this situation [the playoffs] before, we have to take matters into our own hands now,” Arreola said of his team building on the lead. “Now that we know how it feels, the returners coming back, I feel like we came out disciplined and we came out playing hard.

“Once we got that one goal, we didn’t give up. We kept going.”

The final Estancia goal came on a beautiful dribbling display from Alvarez, who deked his defender going to his left and shot across the goal into the side netting.

Estancia will host a former Orange Coast League rival in Godinez (16-2-2) in the second round on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Grizzlies, the Golden West League champions, defeated visiting Corona Centennial 3-0 in the first round on Thursday.

After a tough playoff loss at home, Oilers coach Sean Dick was asked how he wanted his team to remember the season.

“By being [Wave] League champions,” said Dick, whose team won the new league. “That’s what I told them. I said, ‘Remember you made history. You’re going to get the banner in the [gym], so you’re going to go down in history for the school.’”

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