Mission grinds out victory

The outcome of the Academic Athletic Association boys’ soccer semifinal playoff match between Galileo and Mission may have turned out as expected, but the means in which it was achieved certainly was not.

Playing on the wide-open confines of Boxer Field that had Mission’s players and coach salivating over the potential to exploit their team speed, the Bears instead had to grind out a tough 2-0 victory over Galileo in a match that was still undecided well into the second half.

Edgar Gomez-Carreto’s goal in the 68th minute broke the scoreless tie and Charly Uc’s score off a brilliant assist by Marvin Jimmenez in the 79th minute sealed the win for the Bears.

“I always try to look for the silver linings in games like this,” Mission coach Scott Kennedy said. “I certainly don’t think we played as well as we could and we still got the win, which showed me something. After we got all the nerves out of us I think we started to settle down and play.”

After 40 minutes of scoreless play in a mostly nondescript first half, Galileo fielded a number of attacking volleys to open the second half, nearly getting a goal from Jorge Juarez, whose strike off a crossing pass was just barely pushed over the crossbar by a leaping effort from Mission keeper Jose Gallardo-Marcias

Mission finally established some offense late in the second half, after Bears forward Valcher Leao Jr. received a crossing pass unguarded in Galileo’s box and was able to get off two attempts on goal. The balls were snuffed out both times by defenders, but Gomez-Carreto emerged from the scrum with possession and pushed a shot into the left corner of the goal, past goalkeeper Royce Bonilla.

A little more than minutes later, Jimmenez pulled off the play of the match, spinning around two defenders in Galileo territory, then passing the ball through a defender’s legs to himself before lofting a perfect crossing volley to Uc, who headed the serve into the goal for Mission’s second score of the contest.

“I don’t really have the words to describe that play,” Jimmenez said. “I was just trying to make something happen and I was able to put the ball between the defenders’ legs and make a good pass.”

Jimmenez and the Bears’ late-game heroics were enough to stave off a valiant defensive effort by Galileo, which came into the matchup as a heavy underdog.

“We are very happy with our effort,” Lions sweeper Carlos Santos said. “This was the first time Galileo made the playoffs since 1972, so we have a lot to be proud about.”

With the victory, Mission will face the winner of today’s Lowell-

O’Connell clash in Saturday’s championship match.

“I think we needed to get this game out of our system,” Kennedy said. “Now we can look forward to Saturday knowing we still have yet to play our best game.”

Mission 2, Galileo 0

AAA PLAYOFFS

At Boxer Stadium

WEDNESDAY’S SEMIFINAL GAME

» Mission 2, Galileo 0

TODAY’S SEMIFINAL GAME

» Lowell vs. O’Connell, 2:30 p.m.

SATURDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP

» Mission vs. Lowell-O’Connell winner, 1 p.m.

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