Hart boys soccer beats Norwalk in PKs to move on to CIF-SS semifinals

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For the second game in as many tries, the Hart boys soccer playoff game was tied at the end of regulation in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal contest against Norwalk at Hart High School on Tuesday.

In nothing short of a theatric finish, the Indians tied the game with seconds left in regulation with a penalty kick to force overtime. In the two overtime sessions, both teams played to a draw and goalkeeper Lucas Enriquez came up with three big saves in PKs and Cameron Castaneda netted the game-winning penalty shot to seal Hart’s 3-1 win in PKs.

“The boys put it together,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “They worked hard this game and that team is a very good team. There’s not too much I can say. They played amazing. They worked hard from beginning to end and they deserve the end.”

Nicholas Woll scored in the 28th minute, off an assist by Lawrence Luna, to tie the game at 1-1 and Joseph Ochoa tied the game at 2-2 on a penalty kick with just seconds remaining in regulation.

Hart (18-2-3 overall) showed its dominance early on in the game with two early scoring opportunities — one by Woll on a header and another by Nathaniel Bello on a volley — but both shots were saved by the Norwalk goalkeeper.

Slowly, but surely, Norwalk (16-5-1) started to find players in open space and establish a good connection halfway through the first half.

“We started getting tired,” Jovel said. “We started to put subs in and when you don’t have the tempo of the game, you can tell the difference between the starters and the guys that are coming in.”

In the 25th minute, Hart goalkeeper Enriquez uncharacteristically misjudged a bounce in front of the net and allowed the first goal of the game.

Three minutes later, Luna drove down the field and found Woll from about 15 yards out from the goal who chested the ball and put up a volley that was destined for the back of the net to tie the game 1-1.

With under five minutes remaining in the half, the Lancers struck again and regained the lead, 2-1, heading into halftime.

The Indians almost tied the game five minutes into the second half with a free-kick by Sebastian Ramirez that took an awkward bounce, but nothing came of it.

Down 2-1, with the game winding down, the Indians coaching staff and bench implored the team to pass the ball into open wide positions. With seconds remaining in the regulation, it paid off.

Locating an arching through-pass in the attacking third, Luna rushed down the right flank toward the Lancers’ goal. Taking on three defenders, Luna cut inside and was fouled inside the 18-yard box setting up a penalty kick.

“Way before that play, I thought the game was over because there was barely any time left,” Luna said. “If this was going to be my last moments on the field, I’m going to let it go because I’m in pain. I wanted to take it down the line and wanted to get a cross in, but I saw him stick out his foot and I got the foul. Once we got the PK in, it wasn’t done. We were here to finish it off.”

The two teams began and ended the two overtime sessions tied 2-2, setting up back-to-back PKs for Hart.

Norwalk took the first shot, just like he did the game prior, Enriquez started off the shoot out with a save on Christopher Peregrina’s shot. He followed the save up with another one, while the third Norwalk penalty kick missed wide right.

“He’s been very good in PKs,” Jovel said. “I’ve never known that side of him, but it three games he’s guessed six PKs and stopped six PKs. That says a lot about him. He works.”

Ramirez and Luna scored their penalty kicks, but Ochoa missed wide right, setting up Castaneda’s game-winner.

“I’m proud of the boys,” Castaneda said. “We always find a way to pull it off in the end. I wouldn’t have been in that position if it weren’t for them. I’m thankful for my teammates and the fight that they put in the game. I think we deserved the win. It was my job to finish it.”

Hart plays the winner of Alta Loma/North Torrance in the semifinals on Saturday.

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