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Boys’ Soccer: Cortez delivers game-winner

LAGUNA BEACH — In stoppage time, Coach Robert Castellano wanted to know how much time remained in the Estancia High boys’ soccer match. He asked the referee, who in turn raised one finger, signaling one minute.

Sixty seconds proved to be more than enough time for the Eagles to break a scoreless tie on Friday night. In such a short period, they put together two scoring chances. The second shot on goal, the one furthest out, found the back of the net at Laguna Beach.


Abarham Cortez blasted a shot from outside the box, putting it where the goalkeeper stood no chance of stopping the ball. The midfielder struck the upper-left corner of the net, picking an ideal time to produce his first goal of his senior season as Estancia pulled out a 1-0 win.

“And like that, too?” Cortez said of the style in which he recorded his game-winning goal.


Yeah, just like that, the Eagles are 2-0 in Orange Coast League play. Each time they have won, 1-0.

The second league match went down to the wire, Estancia triumphing 10 seconds before the referee blew the whistle to end the match.

“It’s very nice,” Castellano said of coming away with a victory, instead of a tie. “Every time we … come here, it’s always a battle, it’s always drama, it’s always just [stressful]. The last two seasons we’ve tied here. I was kind of surprised there weren’t more goals.”

It only took one goal for Estancia to prevail and Cortez provided it. He’s barely getting into playing shape after he pulled his gluteal muscle.


When Marco Pineda passed him the ball late against the Breakers, Cortez didn’t pull up lame. He made sure to finish strong.

Teammate Jorge Mendoza, inside the box, had a chance seconds earlier, to put Estancia on top, but keeper Dante Amodeo stopped the shot. Amodeo made big saves all evening for the Breakers. He just couldn’t get his gloves on the final ball.

Cortez kept the Eagles undefeated in league as they head into Wednesday’s showdown with defending league champion Godinez. The matchup at Jim Scott Stadium features two ranked CIF Southern Section Division 5 programs, No. 9 Estancia, which is 9-3-2 overall, and No. 1 Godinez.

“It’s great to have a team like that in our league because we know who has set the bar high,” Castellano said of the Grizzlies, who reached the semifinals last season.


Castellano, in his fifth season at the helm of his alma mater, has a formidable team. He last led the Eagles to a league title in 2009-10, and on Friday, they showed flashes of brilliant play.

The Eagles dominated Laguna Beach (4-5-3, 1-1-0 in league) for most of the match. They began to warm up offensively once Castellano put on his jacket midway through the first half.

He kept the jacket on and Kevin Pizarro and Jorge Mendoza each took turns creating chances. None of their balls got past Amodeo, though.

Estancia keeper Enrique Valle only had to make a couple of saves, coming on long set pieces. Defender Christian Monroy helped shut down a physical Laguna Beach side.

“We want to make sure that we don’t let ourselves get pushed around,” said Laguna Beach Coach Daniel Richards, who had four players receive yellow cards.

“Obviously disappointing to let a goal in at the [last] minute]. It’s a tough way to end a game.”