Mathias Medel, Staff Writer - October 19, 2019
The uproar of onlooking fans sent waves throughout Terra Nova Park as Chula Vista Futbol Club (CVFC) hosted Academica SC (ASC) for round two of the 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifiers. In a game that saw seven yellow cards and 120 minutes of debilitating soccer, CVFC salvaged a 2-1 nail-biting victory in penalty kicks.
It was goalkeeper Crisitan Garcia (13) who proved to be the hero, saving a total of four penalties, and only allowing one kick to fly past him from 12 yards -- marking the difference on the day.
“Being able to make all those [saves] feels great. I'm doing everything I can to help our team advance to the next round,” Garcia said.
The game began with Academica SC striking quickly in the first half, scoring in the 21st minute through a well-placed shot, allowing no chance for Garcia. Followed by another goal eight minutes later, ASC went into halftime confidently with a two goal lead, forcing a much needed regroup from Chula Vista.
“We wanted to play a little more smart, with simple passes. We were getting a little desperate, trying to push through too fast. Once we kind of settled in and played our game, I think we were able to control the game a little better,” CVFC assistant coach Humberto Rico said regarding the changes Chula Vista made at half time.
CVFC were able to quickly strike back in the second half, with forward Rodrigo Meza (7) slotting one past the goalkeeper in the 52nd minute, in what seemed to be the turning point of the match. ASC were able to reclaim their commanding lead by a two goal margin in the 59th minute.
Meza continued his valiant effort with his second goal of the night as he capitalized off a stolen ball 10 yards away from the box.
“It felt good [to score], not only for myself but for the team, being able to bring everybody up and help for that comeback,” Meza said.
In the dying moments of the second half, midfielder Alberto Diaz (20) managed to convert a one on one opportunity with the opposing goalkeeper, extending the match into overtime.
“Alberto Diaz is one of our MVP of the seasons. He's one of our top goal scorers and it couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Rico said.
With little chances in the additional 30 minutes, the referee’s final whistle inevitably took both teams into penalty kicks, where both teams were denied a total of seven times. With Garcia’s constant stops, and conversions from Jordan Chavez (4) and Luis Espinoza (18), CVFC look to continue their run in the coveted tournament, and prepare for their next opponent in the third round, scheduled to be the weekend of November 23rd.
“We learn from every game that we play, win or lose. We learned here that we don't give up and that every game is a challenge, so we're going to use this experience to get to that next level. We just keep pushing,” Rico said.