CAMPBELL — Watsonville went from dominating, to competing and finally surviving.
But survive they did.
Playing two-men down, in a grueling overtime slugfest, No. 4-seeded Watsonville Wildcatz denied No. 2 seeded-Bellarmine Bell’s final attacks to end in a 1-1 tie and collect their 10th Central Coast Section Division-I championship Saturday at Westmont High in Campbell.
“It’s definitely not the way we wanted it,” said Watsonville forward Alex Cibrian.
Watsonville (14-2-6, 5-2-5) instead was hoping for their first ever win against the West Catholic Athletic League champion Bells (18-4-2) in a CCS title game situation.
What made it so tough for the fourth-place finishers of the Monterey Bay League Gabilan to accept a co-championship, their third in program history and first since 1996, was that they had the win.
Up 1-0, and in added time Bellarmine get one final free kick from 60 yards out after a crazy, heart-stopping second half and made the most of it.
Christian Aldana answered the Bells prayers, as Watsonville keeper Jose Castenada was knocked over by Patrick Burke while soaring for game-sealing save.
A mess of players fell on the junior keeper as Aldana’s game-tying score went through.
The Catz, who were one-man down because of a red card called in the 55th minute, thought that the four minutes of allotted added time had finished prior to the free kick or that the there was a foul called for attacking their keeper inside the box.
Through frustration Watsonville’s Hector Hernandez put his hands on the official while arguing the call and was given a red card.
It put Watsonville in another hole going into overtime.
But even with nine men Watsonville held on thanks to scrappy defense and key saves from keeper Roman Cruz, who replaced Castenada after his injury.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” said Watsonville head coach Roland Hedgpeth. “Even with nine men, we came back. We did not let them score. (The Bells) know that we’re as good as champions as they are. They know. A few a little unfortunate things happened, but we still stayed with it.”
For the complete article see the 03-11-2014 issue.
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