Boys' Soccer: Hyped battle ends in tie

One boys' soccer team that has never beat Estancia High in the past five seasons at Jim Scott Stadium is Godinez.

Time began to run out on the Grizzlies' chances in an Orange Coast League showdown on Wednesday. They appeared to earn one last chance to knock off host Estancia.

The Grizzlies hurried to get a corner kick off before the match ended. They never struck the ball again. The referee blew his whistle and the only two unbeaten teams in league remained unbeaten.

The Eagles and Grizzlies finished in a 2-2 tie on a cold night. Estancia came away with one point against the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 poll.

"Offensively, they were better than us," Estancia Coach Robert Castellano said of the Grizzlies, who controlled possession. "Defensively, we were a little more resilient."

The defending league champion Grizzlies (8-0-4, 2-0-1 in league) tested the Eagles' toughness. They took the lead early in the first and second halves. None of them held up against Estancia (9-3-3, 2-0-1), which is ranked No. 10, along with Baldwin Park.

The first Godinez goal looked questionable to Castellano. Thirteen minutes in, off a corner kick, Eric Torres' header hit the crossbar. The ball then bounced down and seemed to cross the goal line.

None of the referees signaled a goal and the play continued. Estancia defender Carlos Herrera kicked the ball out of danger, prompting Godinez Coach Ruben Fernandez to argue for a goal after seeing the reaction from his players.

After a couple of minutes, the center referee awarded the Grizzlies with a goal. Castellano could not believe it.

"I can see a couple of seconds [afterward], but that was two minutes later," Castellano said of the decision. "I've never seen that happen."

What else Castellano hasn't seen this season is his team rally from a one-goal deficit.

For the first time, the Eagles fought back. They came back twice against Godinez, which has tied the likes of Santa Ana, Loara and Santiago.

Kevin Pizarro created both of Estancia's best scoring chances. The sophomore used his nifty footwork near the sideline to keep possession.

In a one-on-one situation with the defender near the edge of the box, Pizarro turned to his right and crossed the ball. He found the foot of Abarham Cortez, who tied the match in the 32nd minute.

Right after the goal, Castellano moved Pizarro, a striker, to midfield. The move panned out in the second half, five minutes after Enrique Torres gave Godinez a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute.

The Eagles needed an offensive-minded midfielder and Pizarro provided a spark. He split two defenders on the left side and then a defender took him down in the box, giving Estancia a penalty kick.

Before Jorge Mendoza could take the penalty kick, Castellano called for someone to help get Pizarro off the field. The trainer got to Pizarro in a hurry by using a golf cart. After a couple of minutes with the trainer, Pizarro, who cramped up, limped off on his own two feet.

"I was trying to get him out as soon as possible because I didn't want to have [Mendoza wait] too much," Castellano said. "That's playing mind games."

Mendoza easily converted the penalty kick, knotting the match at 2-2 in the 67th minute. He beat goalkeeper Lorenzo Robles with a shot to Robles' right.

Robles rebounded late, stopping a possible go-ahead goal. Just outside the box, Estancia midfielder Marco Pineda unleashed a shot that went through a defender's legs and toward the far post, but Robles pushed it away.

Estancia keeper Enrique Valle made four saves, two more than Robles. He didn't have to use his gloves at the end. The corner kick from Godinez never came and Castellano is glad it didn't.

"I was kind of hoping it would go our way for once," said Castellano, whose Eagles, after facing the No. 1 team this season, play last season's top team, Saddleback, the defending CIF Southern Section Division 5 champion, on the road Friday.

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