Daily Pilot Cup: Wilson gains confidence

Daily Pilot

COSTA MESA — Before the game began, the Wilson boys' fifth- and sixth-grade gold team was confident.

Wilson Coach Tony Robles gave his team a pep talk.

"Queremos ganar (we want to win)," Robles told his players in Spanish. "Vamos a ganar (we're going to win)."

After the game, Robles didn't have to say much. The water bottles his players poured on his head did all the talking.

Wilson scored five times in the second half en route to a 6-0 victory over Harbor View at the Costa Mesa Farm Sports Complex. Wilson plays Andersen in a semifinal at 10:30 a.m. today at Farm field No. 1.

The final is at 3 p.m.

Wilson has a good reason to be confident, as well as happy to be in the semifinals. Many on the team of predominantly sixth-graders were on the 5-6 silver division team that lost in the quarterfinals.

"We trained really hard to come here," forward Andy Ceja said. "We're already in the semifinals, and that's really far. We trained really, really hard."

Ceja, Salvador Escalante and Tony Hernandez each played key roles for Wilson. All three players scored twice, helping to break open a tight 1-0 game at halftime.

Wilson had more chances in the first half, not even counting Escalante's goal on an assist from Jose Lopez. Steven Perez also almost knocked one in midway through the half, but Harbor View goalie Karl Donovan made a leaping save.

Robles wasn't concerned about the narrow halftime advantage.

"I have strong players, you know?" he said. "In the first half, they don't know exactly what to do, but once they get into the game they start playing the way I like. I like for them to pass the ball, not just doing a personal game."

Harbor View's scoring chances were limited in the opening half. On the sidelines, a parent offered $100 to any Harbor View player who could score in the second half.

Harbor View Coach Patrick Truninger asked the parent for clarification.

"Is that per goal?" he said.

But Wilson continued to shut down the Harbor View attack behind defense from Jose Martinez, Luis Rosete and Anthony Robles. Goalie Hector Galivan had to make six saves, but most were routine.

The Knights tried to get it going with forwards Paxton Conti, Alex Stowell and Dane Flinn, along with midfielder Christian Cernich. Donovan, who played the field in the second half, made a cross to Flinn, but the Wilson defense was ready.

Seconds later, Ceja counterattacked and scored the second of his back-to-back goals. Two minutes later, he was at it again, putting a series of moves on a Harbor View defender on the side of the box before passing to Escalante for an open shot he converted.

It was three goals in a six-minute stretch, and the lead was 4-0 and growing.

"I had to pass with my left foot," said Ceja, who is right-footed. "It went slow, but he still came and got it and he scored."

Donovan made six saves for Harbor View, and Derek Mathuny added four.

Wilson now plays an Andersen team that got to the semifinals via a penalty-kick shootout win over Sonora. If Wilson wins, it will play either eight-time division champion Rea, or Mariners, in the final. Rea and Mariners played for the championship last year.

"We'll try our best," Escalante said.

Hernandez nodded in agreement.

"We're confident," he said.

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