The Dobson boys soccer team woke up at the start of the second half and showed San Luis that it wouldn’t be able to waltz into the first round of the 6A state tournament.
The problem for the visiting Mustangs — their waking up only appeared to wake the Sidewinders up, too.
Aside from an out-of-character 10-minute stretch to open the second half, No. 9 San Luis did what it needed to do Thursday night at home in a 4-2 victory over No. 24 Dobson in 6A’s state play-in round.
The Sidewinders (9-3 AIA) led 2-0 at halftime, conceded two goals and almost a third early in the second half, and then rebounded with two goals in a three-minute span shortly after and comfortably held on from there to advance.
San Luis will play at the No. 8 seed — which has yet to be announced — on Saturday in 6A’s round of 16; it’s the 17th time in as many varsity seasons that the Sidewinders have reached the round of 16 at state.
“Fortunately they woke up,” coach Jesus Rojas said of his players.
Junior Alberto Esparza (with an assist from junior Ricardo Famania) and sophomore Eduardo Noriega (assist from senior Erik Vera) scored in a first half that saw the Sidewinders outshoot the Mustangs 10-4. Then came the start of the second half.
Just 20 seconds in, San Luis junior goalkeeper Martin Sanchez let a ball go through his arms and Dobson was able to collect it and put it in. Nine minutes later, Dobson’s second corner kick of the half resulted in a Marco Islas goal to tie the score at 2-2.
“We had a decent first half, and the start of the second half was like probably the worst of the season,” Rojas said. “We had a terrible beginning and I don’t know if they were overconfident or what happened, but it was really bad.”
It could have been worse. Just minutes before Islas’ equalizer, Sanchez made a point-blank save on what was possibly Dobson’s best look on goal all night. That atoned for Sanchez’s mistake minutes prior.
“His only weakness is overconfidence,” Rojas said. “He’s so confident in his abilities that sometimes he oversteps. But his reflexes — he’s a really, really good goalkeeper.”
The Mustangs recorded six shots (five on goal) and earned two corners in the first 10 minutes of the second half; for the other 70 minutes, they totaled eight shots (two on goal) and earned zero corners.
San Luis had given up just five goals total in its previous eight AIA games, and hadn’t given up more than two in a game since a 3-1 loss to Alhambra on Dec. 13. So giving up two, almost three, in a short span was somewhat of a shock.
“They actually noticed we could lose that game if we didn’t wake up, and they started to play a little bit better and fortunately we scored,” Rojas.
Sure enough, four minutes after Dobson equalized, Vera worked his way toward the top of the box and fed Famania to his left, and Famania rocketed a shot past the keeper to put San Luis back on top.
Three minutes later, senior Iann Topete — San Luis’ leading goal scorer with 19 on the season — had a soft header go over the keeper, who’d come off his line, and bounce in to extend San Luis’ lead to 4-2. Famania collected the assist on that goal, giving him one goal and two assists for the night.
From there, Dobson never really threatened again — the Mustangs’ next quality chance didn’t come until there were less than seven minutes remaining.
San Luis will learn its next opponent this afternoon.