Southwest beats Central in boys' El Centro City Championship
Southwest High's Vincent McNease sprints down the field advancing the ball during the El Centro City Championship against Central Union High at Southwest in El Centro. (FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO / February 9, 2013)
As was only fitting, it was a hard-fought contest. Balls sailed on the wind and bodies collided, but it was the Eagles who prevailed, winning 1-0.
Both sides of the field saw equal amounts of foot-action, so much so that the first half seemed more like a giant foosball table than a soccer field. A change in momentum came around the 4:30 mark of that half, when, with the wind at his back, Southwest senior Vincent McNease booted a rocket of a goal from some 50 yards out, elevating the home team to a 1-0 advantage.
“I just felt it,” said McNease on the urge to take his unusually long shot. “I can’t explain it. I was thinking about my team. (Before the game) I told them I would give it my all.”
Although it was a slim lead, the Eagles felt confident coming into the second half. They had made the most of their control of the weather gauge. All they had to do was prevent the Spartans from following suit. Central missed three opportunities to do so, off free kicks at 24:40, 21:35 and 10:30 — the first sailed wide and the second and third both landed safely in the arms of sophomore goalie Saul Quevedo, who finished the night with five saves.
“It was an intense game,” allowed Quevedo, then modestly added, “but it wasn’t so difficult because the rest of my team played great, too. I just tried to keep the goals out.”
The Eagles would stay on top for the rest of regulation and reclaimed the trophy they lost to the Spartans last year.
“It feels beautiful,” said McNease, moments before he was hoisted into the air by teammates and classmates.
Central head coach Alonso Garcia felt no shame in defeat.
“With Southwest, it’s always one of those games, where sometimes you play good soccer, sometimes you don’t get the win. We took some shots but didn’t make them so (the Eagles) deserve it. We’re still looking forward to winning league.”
Rafael Contreras, who has won five city championships in his 10 seasons at the Southwest helm, is already anticipating this coming Tuesday’s match against the 6-0-2 Brawley Union High Wildcats. “That’s going to be very important,” he stated. “We tied too many games this year so we won’t be able to match them, so we’ll try to get second place. It’s going to be a key game if we want a legitimate chance at CIF.”
Southwest (8-1-2 IVL) hosts Brawley at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and Central (7-2-2 IVL) will host Calexico High for the annual Copa del Valle on the same day at 7 p.m.