Time, that precious commodity that seems to dictate much of the American life, often occupies a less lofty position in international sporting events such as soccer. Only the field referee, not a million dollar scoreboard, keeps track of the official time in soccer, a policy that has frustrated more than its share of spectators and players.
Saturday afternoon, at Hanford Rants Stadium in Cerritos, the Calabasas boys soccer team discovered how important two seconds could be.
An unexpected goal by Frontier League rival Agoura--two seconds before the first half was to expire--served as a motivating factor for Agoura and a demoralizer for Calabasas. Agoura took the Southern Section 1-A championship game with a 3-1 victory.
The first-period goal, side-kicked into the net by Kevin Jauch, was almost an after-thought for the few dozen fans who braved 20 m.p.h. winds and a cold rain. While the play unfolded, many were scrambling for cover.
There had been a momentary break in the Calabasas defense as Jauch stepped through three Calabasas players to find the net. The stadium's football scoreboard had displayed the unofficial time until the final five minutes of each half. The scoreboard was turned off so it would not conflict with the official time of referee Tom Stagliano.
Stunned by the sudden turn of events, Calabasas never recovered. Jauch's goal tied the score at 1-1, but more important, it set the stage for a second-half Charger surge that resulted in a 16-3 shot advantage.
"It was a demoralizing factor for us," said Calabasas Coach John Reich. "It allowed them to come out and play with such a surge in the second half."
Goals by Agoura's Grant Landy and Rob Sahm in the first 13 minutes of the second half sealed the win. Most of the final 40 minutes was played within 30 yards of the Calabasas net, a turn of events from the first half when Calabasas, utilizing a 14-10 shot advantage, outplayed the top-seeded Chargers.
"We were very tentative and slow starting," said Charger Coach Mark Berke. "I told them at the half to play their game. The seniors took charge and we pushed the ball up the middle."
Agoura (19-2-1) played disorganized in the first half and fell behind, 1-0, at the 19:12 mark when freshman forward Joel Washburn of the Eagles scored with a header off a corner kick by midfielder Paul Ratcliffe.
Reich's team played according to plan, scoring early. But to Berke, being behind early wasn't much of a factor. The Chargers had come from behind in three previous victories this year over Calabasas (17-6-0).
"Last year we got behind and panicked," said Berke about Agoura's performance in the 1-A final a year ago, a 2-0 loss to Valley Christian. "When we gave up the first goal we knew we could come back."
Boys 3-A Division
Esperanza 1, Burbank 0--A goal by junior forward Brent Bish, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, enabled top-seeded Anaheim Esperanza to beat second-seeded Burbank.
The goal came with five minutes remaining and ruined what had been a solid evening of goal keeping by Burbank goalie Sal Velasco. Velasco faced 23 shots and recorded seven saves.
Aztec goalkeeper Bill Culp recorded the shutout--the team's 22nd of the year--with seven saves. He faced 13 shots.
Burbank forward Cesar Zepeda narrowly missed three goals in the game.
Esperanza (23-0-2) finished the playoffs without allowing an opponent to score. Burbank finished 24-1-0.
Girls 2-A Division
Agoura 2, Oak Park 1--Agoura completed a sweep later in the day when it defeated city rival Oak Park in overtime.
The weather wasn't as much a factor. The rain, which drenched the field in the boys' game earlier, stopped, although it left the field with a series of giant mud puddles near midfield.
Top-seeded and heavily favored Agoura (21-0-2) had a difficult time remaining unbeaten with pesky Oak Park (13-6-0), the third place representative from the Tri-Valley League.
Agoura's Dawn Krenik staked the Chargers to a 1-0 lead with a breakaway goal just 47 seconds into the second half. But with about two minutes remaining in the contest junior forward Stacy Wise forced an overtime period with a score from 20 yards out.
After several shots on goal were blocked, Agoura got the winning score from senior forward Tracy Redman on a rebound from close range at the 88:25 point.
In the scoreless first half, Agoura out-shot Oak Park, 13-4.