RHS won the CIF league with a 10-1-3 record. This photo is from a game earlier in the season.
RHS boys soccer storms into 3rd round
Buoyed by their 1st league title in 17 years, the Terriers defeated Rialto 2-1
RIALTO -- Throughout a season that was filled with so many dominant results, the Redlands High School Boys Soccer team rarely found itself in any troubling situations.
That’s what happens when you lose only one game along the way to winning the school’s first league title in nearly 20 years.
Everything looked to be continuing down that path when Redlands took a 1-0 lead into the second half of its CIF Southern Section Division 4 second round playoff match Wednesday evening against Rialto High School. But as the second half began, and as the already chilly weather seemed to get colder by the minute, Rialto’s players pressed forward, dominating play by keeping Redlands hemmed in its half.
Time and again, Rialto players stole the ball or forced a quick turnover. But each time, Rialto’s attack fizzled inside the 18-yard line as shots were fired harmlessly wide or passes were made off the mark and put out of bounds.
Still, the lack of offensive continuity had to worrisome. And those concerns found themselves realized when Rialto was awarded with a free kick from 35 yards out that was headed into the goal for a suddenly tied match in the 60th minute.
But as junior forward Daniel Kibrom explained, the tying goal amounted to a stiff smack in the face.
“They were on us pretty good,” Kibrom said. “We picked it up after that. It was a big wake-up call.”
And wake up they did.
Redlands dominated the final 20 minutes of play, missing on numerous scoring opportunities. But with about a minute left in extra time, the ball went out of bounds deep in Rialto territory. Redlands’ senior defender Frankie Ramirez sprinted down the field toward the ball as he often has all year because he gets the most distance on his throw-ins.
Taking three steps, the ball exploded out of his hands, finding the head of teammate Justin Marion, also a senior defender whose height and timing make him a dangerous threat inside the box. Marion flicked the ball over two defenders and the goalie.
Turner Humphrey, a junior midfielder whose height and foot skills allow him to dominate the middle of the field, swung his foot at the ball, sending it toward the back of the net. But a Rialto defender blocked the shot. It ricocheted like a pinball, bouncing off Kibrom and Humphrey once again before it nicked off a Rialto player and softly floated over the goal line for the 2-1 lead.
A Rialto player cleared the ball, but the damage had been done. The linesman signaled it was a good goal, which was then confirmed by the head referee. Euphoria overtook the Terriers as they sprinted in different directions, with some players tumbling to the ground in excitement.
The Terriers had their lead, and after a few tense moments holding off the Knights, the whistle sounded and Redlands advanced to the third round game.
“I really felt like even though no one has really paid attention to us all year, the boys did what they have done and stayed strong,” said Head Coach Eric Memory. “They did what needed to be done to get it done. They made it happen.”
The game had begun much like the Terrier’s opening round match with the offense challenging the opponent from the outset. Omar Yehya, a junior striker who led the league in goals, found himself just steps outside of the net but pressed his shot into the goalie, who deflected the ball safely away.
Several more chances followed, but unlike the first-round game, Redlands couldn’t score. Yehya did rifle a shot past the keeper but was ruled offsides, negating the goal.
That all changed in the 18th minute when the Terriers were awarded a free kick. Junior midfielder Dylan Memory laced a hard, low crossing pass that caused a Rialto defender to roughly foul Kilbrom in the box.
The referee awarded the penalty kick as Kilbron picked himself off the turf. He stepped up, striking the ball hard to the right side as the goalie dived in the opposite direction.
“I felt calm,” Kibrom said while acknowledging it was the highest pressure kick in his young career. “I just slotted it to the far right.”
The temperature hovered around 56 degrees at the start of the game and slipped to 53 degrees by its conclusion. But it felt colder, likely because of the dense air and stiff wind.
Coach Memory figured it played a role in his team’s mid-game struggles.
“I really think the cold affected us,” he said.
Throughout the match, Coach Memory urged his team to use its height to its advantage.
“We thought that’s where they were weakest,” he explained. “That’s where we could beat them.”
The coach’s strategy proved correct with the last-minute goal. As his team has for much of the season, the Terriers dominated the air game when it counted most, leading to the game-winner that propelled the Dawgs into the third of a potential five playoff matches.
Buoyed by its 2-1 victory and sixth straight win, Redlands increased its record to 19-2-5 on the season and now advances to play Oxnard (9-8-2) at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Dodge Stadium.
These are the 2017-18 RHS Terriers. Check them out in 360 degrees. Move your way around the circle and see everyone that worked together to bring RHS the CBL title.
Head Coach Eric Memory is not pictured.
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