Clark senior Salvador Bernal had missed several chances to score against Spring Valley in his four years on the team. But Monday afternoon, with the Grizzlies’ postseason hanging in the balance, the Chargers striker wasn’t going to let up.
“Every year we’ve played Spring Valley, I’ve missed at least a dozen goals,” Bernal told his coach and teammates before the game. “It’s like this field is cursed.”
Bernal scored four goals as Clark outlasted host Spring Valley 5-3, keeping the Grizzlies from the playoffs. Spring Valley forward Kyle Martin added a hat trick for his team,
Forward Juan Chavez scored the Chargers’ other goal, a penalty-kick blast in the 17th minute. Chavez added two assists, and Juan Regalado and Ray Saavedra each had one assist.
“Today (Bernal) wanted to score, and he did,” Clark coach Juan Chavez said. “I remember last year, he missed five goals, one of them on this field. This is his last year, so he wanted to make up for the past two years.”
Bernal put his team on the board early, striking an eighth-minute shot past Spring Valley goalkeeper Andy Thomas. He then found the back of the net off a Saavedra pass.
Martin tried to carry Spring Valley into the playoffs by himself.
The senior captain broke away from the pack after grabbing a pass from Seth McGinn near the end of the first half, scoring to narrow Clark’s lead to 3-1 at the break.
Bernal then netted what proved to be the game-winner, bending a goal off the crossbar that plunged down into the net in the 44th minute.
Martin made several runs into the penalty box, finally getting pulled down in the 47th minute to earn a penalty kick. The senior lined up a shot and fired a laser between the posts, hard enough that the ball popped out of the back of the goal. He also scored on a penalty kick in the 69th minute and had a goal called back for offsides three minutes later.
“(Martin is) a phenomenal player,” Spring Valley coach Bill Hamilton said. “He’s been a captain for two years, plays any position; he started out in the back. When we moved him to the front, he didn’t complain. He’s a cheerleader, and we’re definitely going to miss him.”
Goalkeeper Andy Thomas had six saves for the Grizzlies.