Fri, Feb 22 2013 12:18 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Chula Vista Spartans and Southwest Raiders took their South Bay League championship quest down to the final game of the regular season and, while it was not the greatest day on the pitch for either team, one team did walk off the field with sole rights to this year’s league title.
Southwest dropped a 2-1 match to visiting Sweetwater in games played on Feb. 14. The Red Devils (6-11-3) would play the role of spoiler as Jorge Quinones and Dennis Lopez scored goals in each half. Lopez’s goal proved to be the game-winner.
Rafael Espinoza scored the lone goal for the Raiders (13-5).
Both Chula Vista and Southwest entered their regular season finales tied atop the league standings with identical 10-1 records. The loss dropped the Raiders to 10-2.
The Spartans, meanwhile, finished their season on the road at Montgomery, battling an Aztec team even farther down the league standings.
“Their game started before ours and at halftime we knew they (Southwest) had lost,” CVHS coach Ruben Oliveira said. “We knew at that point that all we needed was a tie to win league, but we still wanted to win the game.”
The game between Montgomery and Chula Vista ended in a scoreless tie, thus handing the 2012-13 league championship title to the Spartans.
Chula Vista improved to 19-2-3, 10-1-1 in league play, while the Aztecs finished the season 7-9-5 overall, 3-5-4 in league.
The San Diego Section playoff pairings took place two days later and both South Bay League championship combatants were richly rewarded. Chula Vista received the No. 2 seed in the Division I playoffs while Southwest was given the No. 3 seed in the Division III bracket.
Both teams will host quarterfinal playoff games on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The Spartans will play 10th-seeded Torrey Pines (10-11-3) at Otay Ranch High School at 5 p.m.
Southwest will host either sixth-seeded Olympian (13-9-1) or 11th-seeded Brawley (12-5-4) at 6 p.m.
The winners of both games advance to the division semifinals next Wednesday.
While obviously elated by his team’s high seed, Oliveira remains cautious about his team’s opening playoff match.
“It always feels good to know that we deserved the 19 wins,” Oliveira said. “But it’s the playoffs — sometimes it hurts you to have that bye. The other team you’re facing already has a win and you can’t be too overconfident.”
Carlsbad (22-3-1) received the No. 1 seed among Division I teams while University City (16-5-4) and St. Augustine (14-5-2) were seeded first and second, respectively, among Division III teams.
Mesa League champs
The Hilltop Lancers and Otay Ranch Mustangs were locked in a similar must-win scenario in their final regular matches. The teams entered the final week of play tied with 5-1-2 records. However, Mater Dei Catholic slapped Otay Ranch with a 4-0 upset loss and host Bonita Vista slipped in a late goal to deadlock Hilltop in a 2-2 draw.
The Lancers thus entered their regular season finale against Eastlake needing to win to maintain their one-point advantage in the league standings, while a loss, coupled with an Otay win, could hand the league title to the Mustangs.
Otay Ranch defeated Bonita Vista, 5-1, to put pressure on Hilltop, which came through with a clutch 3-1 victory against the visiting Titans to secure sole rights to the 2012-13 league title. Rigo Santana scored all three Lancer goals — all on laser-beam shots, according to HHS coach John Salts.
“We’ve been to the CIF finals the last two years but having graduated so many players last year and with this team not expected to do much, I am so happy for this group to win the league banner,” Salts said.
As a league champion, ninth-seeded Hilltop (9-7-6) hosted a Division II first-round playoff match on Wednesday.
The Lancers (9-8-6) got a goal by Steven Jaramillo in the opening two minutes and had numerous other opportunities to expand their lead in the first half, but eighth-seeded Valhalla drew the equalizer off the foot by Andrew Ogilvy in extra time just before halftime and the visiting Norsemen (12-6-5) went on to claim a penalty kick shootout on a last-round save by goalkeeper Dimas Orozco.
Hilltop finished 6-1-3 in league play, followed by second place Otay Ranch (10-6-3) with a 5-2-2 record and Mater Dei Catholic with a 5-2-3 record in third place.
Olympian finished fourth in the league standings at 4-5-1, followed by Eastlake (3-6-1, 7-11-2) and Bonita Vista (0-8-2, 3-15-3).
The Eagles’ go-to man? Olympian’s Branden Sanchez finished regular season play with 27 goals and 13 assists.
Mater Dei Catholic (10-5-4) received the No. 3 seed in the Division IV playoffs and will host sixth-seeded La Jolla Country Day (13-7-2) Saturday at 5 p.m.
© 2009 The Star-News