The Castle Park Trojans and Sweetwater Red Devils likely had never played a game anything quite like Tuesday’s South Bay League boys soccer match.
All totaled, there were four red card ejections — all to one team, visiting Sweetwater — and six goals: three by each team.
The Red Devils scored two goals while short-handed to take a two-goal lead. The Trojans scored three times with the numerical advantage to offset that.
The kicker: The last goal came with 10 seconds left in stoppage time to seal the deadlock.
It was simply par for the course in the ongoing rivalry between the teams, according to CPHS coach Jose Cobian.
“We are rivals with both Chula Vista and Sweetwater and when the conference splits into three leagues next season, we’re going to be in the same league with Chula Vista, Hilltop and Sweetwater and the rivalries will continue,” Cobian said.
But as for Tuesday’s game?
“It was really weird at the end,” the Trojan sideline boss said, somewhat perplexed.
That explains events about as well as anyone can.
“It was just unreal,” SuHi coach Hiram Villafana explained.
Sweetwater, which entered the game with just one victory to its credit this season, appeared to be on the verge of recording a heroic effort while playing four men short for the bulk of the match.
The Red Devils (0-1-1 in league, 1-7-2 overall) led 1-0 on a first-half goal by Raul Sandoval. However, CP’s Raul Cirerol notched the equalizer in the opening minutes of the second half.
That was just the beginning of a wild match, as it turned out.
Sweetwater was awarded a penalty kick about 10 minutes later, with Danny Corona converting against a field player who was required to don the goalkeeper jersey after the starting CP ’keeper had received a caution immediately preceding the spot kick.
The game resumed with the starting Trojan netminder still trying to put his jersey back on.
At the time of the PK, the Devils had been playing a man down. But on the spot kick foul, two more SuHi players were handed red cards to bring the total to three in the game.
No matter, Angel Lopez managed to slip through on a counter-attack to give the visitors a 3-1 lead midway through the second half.
But the momentum quickly returned to the hosts, who attacked relentlessly thereafter.
“I pushed up four forwards,” Cobian explained. “We had one defender back and another player in front of him. The defender was there to help clear anything that got through, but they still managed to score on us.”
Miguel Lopez scored on a penalty kick with about 10 minutes to play to bring Castle Park to within one goal at 3-2.
It was shortly after this that the Devils received their fourth red card of the match.
It proved to be the trump card for the Trojans (1-1-1 in league, 4-2-4 overall).
Nearing 10 minutes of stoppage time, Castle Park’s Levy Perez got in position for one last shot: his looper just cleared the outstretched hands of the SuHi ’keeper.
The referee’s whistle to signal the end of the game followed seconds later.
Understandably, the ending to the game was emotional for both teams.
“I’m giving my players props for the heart and spirit they played with,” Villafana said.
“We should have won this game being up four players,” Cobian said tersely.
SOUTH BAY LEAGUE
The host Sweetwater Red Devils blanked Castle Park, 3-0, on Tuesday behind two goals from Carissa Garcia and one goal and one assist from Karina Quiroz. Beatriz Mateo recorded two saves to post the shutout. The Red Devils improved to 6-4 overall, 2-0 in league play.
Eastlake (4-1-4) edged visiting Granite Hills, 1-0, in a non-league game on Dec. 20 as Ang Boyd scored the winning goal.