Goalkeeper Jose Bautista knew if ever there was a time to put Western’s boys soccer team on his back, the 75th minute of Tuesday’s Sunset League match against rival Clark was the moment to do so.
With the Chargers’ leading goal scorer, freshman Manuel Ponce, glaring him down in a crucial penalty kick situation, Bautista didn’t waver.
“I just stared into his eyes,” said Bautista, who’s Warriors were leading 2-1 at the time. “I saw them go to one side. He’s a tricky player. I knew he was going to shoot to the (left) side, and that’s exactly what he did. This was the biggest save of the season.”
The senior captain, who had 13 saves, blocked Ponce’s strike with both arms extended, helping secure Western’s 3-1 victory.
“It seems like a long season this year being undefeated (in league). Everyone is coming at us at full-force,” Warriors’ coach Jorge Cobian said. “I know (Bautista) could do it. Mentally, he was ready for it.”
Four minutes after the blocked penalty kick, Western (8-1,7-0 Sunset), cemented its lead when Cesar Carranza maneuvered his way toward the box, and sliced the ball past Chargers’ goalkeeper Ramon Ramirez.
“After that, it seemed like everybody’s batteries got recharged,” Cobian said.
Clark (5-4-1, 3-3-1), tied the game in the 49th minute when Eduardo Martinez crossed the ball to Daniel Barauna, who booted the ball past a diving Martinez.
Forward Edgar Lujano tallied Western’s first goal in the fourth minute on a breakaway, weaving in-and-out of two defenders before lacing the ball into the right corner of the night. Midfielder Luis Ponce added the go-ahead goal, his 12th of the season, in the 60th minute for the Warriors.
“Clark is close to us and they’re our rivals,” said Ponce, who, along with teammates, gathered in the middle of the field and chanted the school’s moniker following the win. “They did that at our school last season. So this was payback.”