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Honkers season ended by U-Prep
REDDING - Following a heart-stopping double-overtime win over Williams High to reach the semifinals, there was no magic left for the Honkers on Wednesday.
Willows High's boys soccer team was stopped one game short of a Division III championship bid when they were defeated 3-1 by U-Prep in Redding.
The game began the way the Honkers wanted, when Fernando Cervantes drilled a direct kick over the Panthers' wall and on goal. U-Prep keeper Michael Golden went down to the sports turf to stop the initial shot but allowed a rebound, and Giovanni Guttierez buried it into the net for a 1-0 Willows lead in the 14th minute.
Misfortune then struck not once, but twice.
The Panthers' Zach McGhee put a shot on net and followed for a possible rebound, and when the Honkers' first-year keeper Josue Valenzuela was not able to secure the ball, McGhee dribbled it past him and put it into the wide-open goal for the equalizer in the 27th minute.
Ten minutes later, McGhee won a race for a loose ball near midfield and booted it hard in the direction of the Willows net, only to have it take a hop past Valenzuela and roll over the line for his second goal and a 2-1 U-Prep advantage.
"I think it was just one of those things were he was a little bit nervous and wasn't expecting the ball to come to come in that fast on him," said Willows coach Jose Cano about the difference between playing on turf as opposed to grass. "The ball goes pretty fast and it ate him up, but he'll learn from that."
U-Prep's Matt Hatter had a second-half goal waved off for being offside, but delivered the dagger toward the end of regulation time when he scored on a free kick to make it 3-1.
While the loss was a tough one, Cano was generally pleased with the Honkers' performance, although he would have liked to have seen them take more shots.
"Most of the game I thought we did pretty good. We were attacking and created a lot of opportunities to score, and we just didn't get enough shots like we wanted to."
Willows took 14 shots on goal.
"You have to be able to take shots to give yourself an opportunity to score. I don't think we gave ourselves enough shots to get a couple goals to overcome that 2-1 deficit."
Valenzuela made three saves in the first half, and Gilberto Madrigal turned aside a pair of shots in the second.
The sixth-seeded Honkers finished the season with a record of 10-7-4, while No. 2 U-Prep (7-3-2) moved on to face top-ranked Esparto (14-0-2) for the championship.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.