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Prep Boys Soccer Playoffs: Oak Hills extends quarters streak

Oak Hills advances to quarterfinals for fourth year in a row

OAK HILLS • It’s become a tradition and almost expected by the players.

The Oak Hills boys soccer team plays very well in the regular season and then makes a deep charge into the postseason.

For the fourth time in as many seasons as the school has been open, the Bulldogs are advancing to the quarterfinals.

Oak Hills knocked off West Ranch 2-1 in a CIF-Southern Section Division 4 game that was delayed a day by inclement weather.

“We have high expectations, but we don’t underestimate anyone,” junior Jose Nuno said.

Sage Smith scored the first goal early in the first half, and Abel Arriola scored the go-ahead goal later in the first half following a handball. The Bulldogs hardly allowed any offensive attacks in the second half as West Ranch had just two legitimate shots at goal.

“I think in the second half we managed the game better,” Oak Hills coach Darren Goodman said. “We were able to make sure we won. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the result we wanted.”

Oak Hills (23-2-2) hasn’t trailed in a match since losing the San Gorgonio Tournament silver bracket championship 5-3 to Arlington on Dec. 29. The Bulldogs have won 12 straight games in that stretch.

“Just our work rate,” said Smith about how well Oak Hills has played this season. “We always have great work rate and great heart. We always play for each other and tend to find each other the ball and just get in on offense.”

Smith put the Bulldogs on the board in the 16th minute. A pass bounced off Christian Caudle and to Smith just inside the 18, and he launched the ball into the right corner of the goal. Smith now has 16 goals this season.

“The ball came out at the perfect time,” Smith said. “I volleyed it and put it in the net.”

That lead didn’t last long. Five minutes later, West Ranch’s Wade McMillon dribbled past a couple of Oak Hills defenders, drawing Bulldogs goalkeeper Chase Gentry for a 1-on-1. McMillon then fired a shot into the open left corner to tie it at 1.

Oak Hills took the lead for good when a West Ranch player was called for a handball inside the box late in the first half. Arriola connected on the kick.

The tradition of deep playoff runs extends past the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs will now attempt to advance to the semifinals today for the fourth year in a row when they travel to Ontario at 5 p.m. They reached the Div. 6 finals in the inaugural season, the Div. 4 championship game the following season and the Div. 4 semifinals last year.

After Thursday’s match, the Oak Hills players were already gathering outside a classroom to watch film of Ontario.

“That’s how we operate. One game at a time,” Smith said.

C.J. Daft can be reached at christiand@vvdailypress.com or at (760) 951-6275.


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