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Birthday boy Medina's hat trick powers Kings
Jose Medina got the only birthday gift better than a playoff win - a playoff win and a hat trick.
The Kofa forward scored the go-ahead goal in the first half, then added two more as the No. 4 Kings topped No. 13 Tucson 6-1 Wednesday at Irv Pallack Field in a first-round 5A-I State Playoff game.
"A hat trick is what a player always wants," Medina said. "Especially in the playoffs. It's always a good thing to score."
The win puts the Kings (12-1) into the quarterfinals where they'll host Marcos de Niza at noon Saturday.
Kofa started out sluggish against the Badgers (9-4), but broke through in the 22nd minute when Colby Carr scored on a miss by Medina, getting the rebound off the goalkeeper and putting behind him.
The Badgers wasted no time in tying the game when Chris Marrone's throw in went in front of the net and Raigne Parker took advantage of the clutter, directing the ball in 3 minutes after Carr's score.
But Medina scored 5 minutes later when Marcos Garcia's shot attempt slammed off the crossbar, ricocheting right to Medina, who got it past the goalie's blindside.
"He was frustrated in the first half. He could have one or two more goals," Jaime Nicewander said. "We told him to settle down. You don't need a spectacular goal, you have to put away the simple goals."
The Kings exploded in the second half, scoring three goals in a 12-minute span, the first and last by Medina in the in the 47th and 59th minutes.
"We had to remind them of who they were, where they're at and what they needed to do," Nicewander said. "I told them I wanted four goals in the second half, and they got me four goals. It was just looking choppy because we weren't controlling the ball very well."
Nicewander said the No. 5 Padres will be another tough team to figure out.
"Some teams it takes a while to break them down," Nicewander said. "Sometimes you got to keep trying to crack that nut. I keep telling the guys about cracking the nut. ... Some times take a little longer to figure out. We were lucky enough to come out scoring in the second half and continue scoring."
Defender Martin Lara put the Kings up 4-1 on a header with 31:09 left. Medina added a penalty kick 10 minutes later, then Carlos Fimbres, playing his first varstiy game added a late goal with 5:31 left to secure the rout.
"The beginning of the first half we played kind of sloppy," Medina said. "Our touches were off, our heads weren't in the game. But we came in the second half, we touched, we started connecting and talking. That's what helped us a lot."
Edward Carifio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6882.