YUCCA VALLEY — The conditions may not have been perfect for a Flintridge Prep boys' soccer victory, but it didn't spoil the day for the Rebels.
Prep made the near three-hour trek to Yucca Valley Tuesday and played through a sloppy field and what the Rebels found to be puzzling officiating en route to a 3-2 victory in a CIF Southern Section Division VI wild-card game.
The score didn't reflect how well the Rebels (8-6-4) controlled the game, as they finished with a 22-6 shot advantage and created 10 corner kicks to the Trojans' one to pull out a win in Prep's first trip to the postseason in six years.
"It's the strangest 3-2 victory I think we've had," Flintridge Prep Coach Mathew Bowden said. "It could have been a lot easier than that, but we don't want to blame the refs or anything like that. We conceded a couple of sloppy goals again and missed a host of chances. It made it a lot harder than it should have been."
Flintridge Prep, which got two scores from Zady Al-Marayati, got on the board in the 20th minute when Cole Rademacher cleaned up a cross from Roy Yu.
Yu's pass went into the middle of the box and Prep's Henry Griffith had first crack at it, but his shot was blocked in the box by a Yucca Valley defender, but forced a diving attempt from the Trojans' goalkeeper. The ball bounced to Rademacher, who knocked it in for an easy goal and 1-0 lead with the goalie still on the ground.
Prep went into halftime in complete control with an 11-3 shot advantage, but just a one-goal advantage after an abundance of scoring opportunities.
Yucca Valley (4-7-4) seemed to have turned momentum back in its favor three minutes into the second half when the Trojans' Lukas Rodriguez had a breakaway to Prep's goalkeeper, who ran out to cut down the shot, but Rodriguez got one off that rolled into the back of the net to tie the game at a goal apiece.
"I was delighted with the first half apart from the fact we didn't score many goals," Bowden said. "It was a bad time for them to get their goal."
There was no panic in the Rebels, though.
"We were definitely dominating the game at that point so we weren't that worried," Yu said. "We all knew we could come back and we did."
Al-Marayati put his team back out in front in the 49th minute. Manny Perez created the opportunity by working around a defender and down into the left corner of Yucca Valley's box before sending a low cross to Al-Marayati. The Trojans goalie made a diving attempt to grab the pass, but came up empty as Marayati one-timed the pass for an easy score and 2-1 edge.
"It was pretty scary [after Yucca Valley first scored], but it wasn't disheartening because we knew we were the better team," Al-Marayati said. "We just had to keep going and it worked out in the end."
Al-Marayati scored on another wide-open shot in the 59th minute after Yu stole a pass from Yuca Valley's goalie deep in his own end. Yu quickly passed the ball with the goalkeeper out of position to Al-Marayati, who finished it for a 3-1 lead.
The Trojans managed to cut the lead back down to one, 3-2, on a goal from Logan Vallo, but never seemed to really have a comeback in the making.
It was a good result for the Rebels, who needed penalty kicks to defeat Yucca Valley when the two teams first met in the Ontario Christian Tournament on Dec. 27. Prep went up, 2-0, but saw the Trojans come back to tie the game at 2 before pulling out the win on penalties.
"It's been six years since Prep made it to the playoffs, it feels really good [to get the win]," Al-Marayati said. "We have a tough team next game, but hopefully we can go further."
The Rebels will hit the road again Thursday to take on Division VI's top seed, Ontario Christian (17-3-2).
"It should be a bit of a challenge, but we have nothing to lose, we will go out there and see how it goes," Bowden said.