With both teams separated by two points in the Academic Athletic Association’s X division, Mission High School and Lincoln High School knew a win would provide a big boost to making the postseason.
The visiting Bears (14-6-3, 11-2) took a big step toward claiming a playoff spot as they scored three first-half goals en route to a 4-1 victory over Lincoln (9-7, 9-3) on Tuesday.
The Bears scored two goals in the 35th and 37th minutes, and added another in the first minute of the second half that left the Mustangs shell-shocked in a game that was played in a thick fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean.
“We knew that they were going to come out hard, they’re a good team with good coaching,” Mission coach Scott Kennedy said. “We got some crucial goals there at the end [of the first half] that kind of broke their backs.”
Marco Caballero, who led the Bears with two goals, opened the scoring when Lincoln failed to clear the ball out of its zone, turned it over and Caballero had no problem chipping it in from five yards out.
Lincoln had a great chance to tie it in the 25th minute when Breddyn Edward Martinez broke free and beat Mission goalkeeper Jose Guevara-Fuentes, but his shot went just wide of the left post.
From that point on, the Bears would crank up the pressure and capitalize on Lincoln’s mistakes. Isia Dorian Rosales’ and Nery Martinez’s goals two minutes apart put the Bears up 3-0, and left the Mustangs devastated going into halftime.
“We knew it was a big game coming in, but there is no reason to hang our heads and give up,” Lincoln coach Kenyatta Scott said. “We were a little discombobulated in the first half, [Mission] capitalized on our errors, and they got the win today.”
Lincoln, which was outshot 15-11 and lost to the Bears 5-1 back on Sept. 9, didn’t go down quietly as they kept pressuring the Bears’ defense knowing that a loss would give the Mustangs a slim shot at making the playoffs.
Hector Wilson Perez scored on a beautiful blast in the 52nd minute from the top of the box that beat Guevara-Fuentes.
However, the 4-0 hole Lincoln put itself in proved to be too deep, as Mission kept them from adding anything else to the scoreboard, thus putting the Mustangs playoffs hopes in the hands of others.
“Our guys never gave up, but we knew we need to win every game to have a shot at the playoffs,” Scott said. “You never want to be in a position where you have to count on other teams to win.”
With the win, the Bears control their destiny and are drawing closer to a return trip to the AAA playoffs. Kennedy liked what he saw today and feels his team is improving at the right time.
“We worked hard and kept playing and kept pushing,” Kennedy said. “It’s finally starting to click, where as we are putting more pressure on teams, and we have players stepping up.”