HUNTINGTON BEACH – After having survived a flurry of shots throughout all of regulation and overtime play of Thursday's CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys' soccer quarterfinal game, Marina Coach Jeff Schofield had Servite right where he wanted the visiting Friars: facing off against his ace goalie, David Elias.
As the sun began to drop and a hush fell over a huge crowd at the Marina field, Elias was first to take on and defend the west-end goal in the winner-takes-all penalty kicks phase of the match. The senior proceeded to come up with two huge stops, getting blocks on the first and third shot attempts by the Friars.
Marina, meanwhile, was able to convert three of its first four attempts and when Davis Brady's kick glanced off the right-side post of the Marina goal on Servite's final attempt, the eighth-seeded Vikings captured a 3-2 thriller over the top-seeded Friars.
Marina fans quickly rushed the field toward the Marina goal, touching off a wild celebration.
"He's amazing," Schofield said of his senior keeper. "He's such a great organizer out there and he catches a lot of high balls. Once we get [to penalty kicks], we feel confident because I feel we have the best goalie around. He's outstanding."
Two days earlier, Marina had survived another PK game, winning, 6-5, at Thousand Oaks.
"To win that one on the road on such a big field, and then to win on kicks again today, says something about our players," Schofield said. "That one [at Thousand Oaks] was a tough one for us and it was really important that we got this game (Servite) at home.
"This is just so exciting. We've been the underdog all year and the kids have responded so well to playing in that role. We're just a working class team and the kids worked extremely hard today. It's great to beat a quality opponent like Servite."
Thursday's win sends Sunset League champion Marina (19-2-6) on to next Tuesday's semifinal round. The Vikings will travel to face fifth-ranked Ventura at 3 p.m. In another quarterfinal game played Thursday, Ventura knocked off defending champion and fourth-seeded San Clemente, 1-0.
By stopping Servite senior Chris Adriano on the first penalty kick attempt on a dive and open-handed block to the right side, Elias, last year's defensive player of the year in the Sunset League, set the tone. He did give up a shot to Friars freshman JT Cook on the second kick but on the Friars' third attempt, Elias was simply outstanding. He dove to his left and blocked, with only his left hand, a low but powerful drive by senior Conner Bevans.
Senior Blake Mooney scored on the Friars' fourth attempt to tie the score, 2-2, one final time.
Marina never trailed in the final phase of the game. The Vikings took a 1-0 lead when senior Alex Witkowski slipped a shot to the left side past Friars freshman goalie Keith Murphy.
After Cook tied the score, 1-1, for the Friars, Murphy grabbed a straightaway block on a kick by Marina sophomore Christian Cordell to give his team a shot at the lead. That's when Elias came up with his great one-handed stop on Servite's third attempt. The Vikings then went back in front, 2-1, when junior Zach Cleveland placed his shot into the right-side of the goal.
With the score tied, 2-2, junior Nick Hice was money as his kick sailed straight into the back of the net to give Marina the lead for good at 3-2. Brady's shot then rocketed off the right-side post of the Marina goal on Servite's final attempt, and Marina had the victory.
Elias was nails throughout the match, turning away the Friars from just about every angle on the field. But, he was quick to acknowledge the tenacity of his defensive front.
By blanking Servite through regulation and two overtimes, the Vikings were able to register their 20th shutout of the season.
“I just love my teammates," he said. "They work hard every second and they are just incredible. Every single game, they give it their all and they did it again today."
"Our defense just fights and fights and fights," he said. "They are tenacious and their fight has been the hallmark of our season."
Although Servite played most of the second half and overtime periods on the Marina side of the field, Elias was ready for the penalty kick phase.
"When I'm out there in the goal, I just zone out. It's just me and the other player," he explained. "When the other guy steps up, I just know where he's going. It's a feeling that I have."
Servite, champion of the Trinity League, finished 23-4-2.
In other CIF quarterfinal round action Thursday:
Valley View 3, Ocean View 0: The Seahawks' six-game win streak and postseason ride ended when they fell at home to the division's second-seeded team. Valley League champion Valley View (19-2-5) used a corner kick and cross to score twice in the opening half.
Ocean View, the No. 3 team from the Golden West League, had defeated Centennial of Corona (3-1) in a wild-card game and 10th-seeded Great Oak (2-0), to advance to the quarterfinals. The Seahawks ended their season 14-9-2.