Hart boys’ soccer dropped in double overtime  

Hart's Cameron Smith (36) attempts to gain possession of the ball against Orange Lutheran freshman Isaac Ortiz-Soto (28) during the second half of Friday's game at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
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Hart Indians boys’ soccer was just a few minutes away from a penalty kick shootout in its home playoff match with the Orange Lutheran Lancers.  

The Indians were down a man after a red card took out one of their defenders in overtime but still made stops before a golden goal ended Hart’s season. 

The Lancers finally broke through for the score by senior Hector Arellanes, who fired in the game-winner after a big throw-in, advancing Orange Lutheran to the Division 1 quarterfinals.  

Orange won the match 2-1, and put up plenty of shots on target but was only able to get the two past Indians goalkeeper Marco Gonzalez, who had one of the best games of his high school career.  

Hart goalkeeper Marco Gonzalez (36) kicks the ball during overtime against Orange Lutheran on Friday, Feb. 9 at Hart High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Gonzalez was lights-out throughout the contest and came up with several saves that sent the Hart crowd into a frenzy. The Lancers couldn’t believe some of the shots Gonzalez saved, leading most members of the team to console the keeper after the game. 

Hart (16-5-1) was devastated but Orange Lutheran’s players met with all Indian players on the field and sought out Gonzalez to congratulate him for a spectacular performance. 

Hart reels in a loss as Orange Lutheran celebrates the winning point during overtime. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“Unbelievable,” said Hart head coach Alex Bernal. “I don’t know how many shots (Gonzalez) stopped, but it was time for him to show out. He’s a heck of a player and I’ve seen him train with his dad. It’s not a surprise when he performs the way he does. I just want to see him continue to work. Remarkable performance by Marco. He’s trained and worked so hard for these moments.” 

Minutes before the golden goal, Gonzalez made a near-impossible stop as he saved a close-range blast from Lancers striker Tito Dorton, which fired up the keeper and the team. 

Hart matched Orange’s speed well and yet again showed the Indians belong at the Division 1 level. Hart struck first in the first half after forward Justin Assadi netted a penalty kick to start off the scoring.  

Hart’s Cameron Smith (36) passes the ball against Orange Lutheran the during the second half of Friday’s game at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

The Indians were awarded the PK after Diego Rodriguez took an elbow to the face in the box. Rodriguez was forced to briefly exit with a nosebleed but showed grit, finishing off the game. 

Hart had seemingly stolen momentum and looked to strike again. However, after a handful of first-half chances, Orange (9-6-5) broke through. Senior Xavier Alcantar put a corner kick on the money into the box, where Alex Vasquez was ready to equalize.  

Orange ramped up the pressure in the second half, but Hart and its star goalkeeper played rock-solid defense, holding the tall and fast Lancers to one goal through regulation. 

Hart’s Eduardo Nunez (28) retains possession of the ball against Orange Lutheran during the second half of Friday’s game at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“(Orange) is definitely a strong team, but with the boys we picked to go out there, we have full confidence in them to go out there and compete, and I think they did. We took them all the way to overtime with a player down. A long throw-in and they got us but there’s no reason why we can’t go out there and compete. So I’m proud of the players for doing that.” 

Of all the Indians who played major time, only one will graduate. Hart center back Samahj Oyewo is the only starter set to graduate from the Indians this season. Oyewo was a key piece in the Indians’ seventh-straight Foothill League title, and while he remains uncommitted, the senior will likely announce his collegiate destination in the coming weeks.   

Hart’s Samahj Oyewo (5) kicks the ball during the second quarter of Friday’s game against Orange Lutheran on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“I’m not sure when another (Oyewo) will come into the program,” Bernal said. “He always gives everything to the game. Even the seniors and players who aren’t able to see the field, they play just as important a role. In practice, they’re always pushing players who may be starting and being their biggest supporters.” 

Hart heads into the off-season with a bad taste in its mouth but a ton to look forward to. Most of the starters are set to return along with Bernal, who already has 11 league wins in his first season. 

The Indians return to the field this November, where they’ll embark on their pursuit of their eighth straight Foothill League title. 

Hart’s Messiah Antwi (4) traps the ball against Orange Lutheran during the first half of Friday’s game at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Hart’s Bryan Barron (8) goes up for a header against Orange Lutheran midfielder Hector Arellanes (12) during the second half of Friday’s game at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Hart’s Bryan Barron reaches for the ball against Orange Lutheran freshman Isaac Ortiz-Soto during the second half of Friday’s game at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Hart’s Marcos Garza (7) back heels the ball during the second half of Friday’s game against Orange Lutheran at Hart High School on Feb. 9. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

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