COSTA MESA — Estevan Bahena admitted he was nervous during a quarterfinal game of the Daily Pilot Cup on Saturday at the Costa Mesa Farm Complex.
His Sonora Elementary boys' fifth- and sixth-grade gold division team had been in this situation before. Just last year, Sonora was knocked out after losing a controversial penalty-kick shootout in the quarterfinals.
The nerves kicked in for Bahena, but at least he knew he was prepared. The Sonora team had been working on penalty kicks after each practice.
This time Bahena and Sonora came up big, beating Mariners Christian, 4-1, after a 2-2 tie in regulation to advance to Sunday morning's semifinals.
Bahena scored both goals during regulation. During the PK shootout, he stopped two shots as the goalie and he connected on a penalty kick.
"We've been practicing and practicing [PKs]," said Bahena, who was on last year's team as a fifth-grader.
"It felt really good to win. I'm in this to win because this is my last year at Sonora and I want to make a good year out of it."
Bryan Ocampo, a 10-year-old fourth-grader who had a hat trick in a pool-play game, scored the fourth and clinching PK, sending the Sonora team into celebration.
The Sonora boys huddled and hopped together, as they shouted their nickname, "Augilas! Augilas! Augilas!" That's Spanish for, "Eagles."
Bahena began the PK shootout with a save. He then took the first PK and connected. JJ Arce and Andrew Vaca also made good on their PKs.
Last year, Andersen knocked out Sonora on PKs. The game was tied after the first set of five PKs. The teams went through another five PKs, rather than competing in a sudden-death shootout, which is standard.
"We did work on PKs this year, pretty much every practice," Sonora Coach Jenny Burks said. "But in the game it's a bit different because there are nerves there."
Burks is no stranger to coaching winnings teams. Before she coached at Rea, helping build powerhouse teams with her husband Gannon Burks, the former Estancia High boys' soccer coach.
Gannon Burks was there on Saturday to lend some advice here and there during the game.
"Together we have one loud voice," Jenny Burks said. "Hopefully the kids can hear us."
The Sonora Augilas listened and used their practice to advance to the semifinals.
Sonora will play against Mariners Sunday at 10 a.m.
The winner advances to the title game at 3 p.m. on Farm field No. 1.