Hart boys win playoff thriller over Millikan, advance to QF

Marcos Garza (15) passes the ball to Andy Juarez who scored against North High School to take the lead in the second half at Hart High on Thursday, 020923. Dan Watson/The Signal

Indians beat Rams in penalty kicks, 5-3 

Harts boys’ soccer won Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 3 second-round matchup over the visiting Millikan Rams in thrilling fashion, as the Indians prevailed in a penalty shootout, 5-3. 

Hart head coach Gio Salinas said that he had been preparing his team for this possibility since prior to the end of the regular season, going so far as to choose exactly who would be picked to take the spot kicks. The Indians’ preparedness worked out, leading them past the stage that they crashed out in last season. 

“What ended up happening is that it was more of a decision there at the game, and this year, I did not want to do that,” Salinas said. “This year, we had the top five kickers practice every day after practice for the last 20 minutes.” 

Hart will now take on El Dorado High School on Wednesday on the road at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals as the Indians look to capture the first CIF title in program history. 

Hart’s five shooters, in order, were senior Trenton Rickard, junior Samahj Oyewo, senior Nicholas Hernandez, senior Marcos Flores and senior Braden Krusey. All five put their penalty shots away, though Salinas said that it was Millikan’s miss in the first round that gave him confidence that his team would pull through. 

“When they missed their first PK, I had a lot of confidence in my boys that they were going to make theirs,” Salinas said. “Again, we worked really hard this whole season as a team. We’ve all believed in each other and we all support each other, and I feel like when they missed theirs, I felt like we had it, for sure.” 

The game went into overtime with the two teams tied at 2-2. Rickard had opened the scoring midway through the first half before Millikan tied it up just before halftime on a throw-in. 

Hart sophomore Marcos Garza put the Indians back in front early in the second half, but once again, the Rams were able to convert from a throw-in late and force overtime. 

Salinas said that he was proud of his team for keeping an opponent that, from watching film, he knew was technically sound and capable of breaking down a defense with ease. 

“These players were really technical,” Salinas said. “During the warmups, I would see that these kids knew how to shoot, they were already practicing their style of play where they would be rotating positions and then finishing. So, it was two teams that knew how to play technical, two teams that knew how to hit the ball right.” 

Salinas now has to prepare his team to face the El Dorado Golden Hawks, who Salinas knew even at the beginning of the season would be one of the “top competitors” in Division 3. 

“I felt like it would have been us and them in the final, so I feel like it’s going to be a championship match on Wednesday at their field,” Salinas said. “I’ve done research on them and they’re really, really tactically organized. They defend together and they attack together. So, it should be interesting because this is exactly the way that we play. 

“It’s gonna be a tough one, but I feel like we could see a light at the end, and we’re working hard for it. I feel like we have the team to compete at this level. At this stage, the quarterfinals, everyone’s going to be a good team and everyone sees that same light. But we’re gonna work hard to get there, because we want to be the first team to win CIF.” 

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