As has happened so many times before, a team that barely makes the playoffs turns out to be unbeatable.
Reseda High finished the regular season tied with Taft for second in the West Valley League but had lost both regular-season meetings with the Toreadors. Under City guidelines, however, a tiebreaker match was required and Reseda qualified for postseason play when a Taft shoot-out kick went off a goal post.
Now the team that was a whisker away from not making the playoffs is a victory away from the championship.
Reseda beat Monroe, 3-2, in a semifinal match Thursday and will face defending champion San Pedro in the title game a week from today.
"Somebody up there is watching out for Reseda soccer," Reseda's Terry Davila said.
We'll never know that for sure, but if that's the case, somebody might have been out to get Monroe. Near-disaster struck the Vikings when Carlos Medina, considered one of the finest goalies in the City, was admitted to Granada Hills Community Hospital on Wednesday night to be tested for appendicitis. He remains under observation. The Vikings (11-3-2) were also without the services of midfielder Raymond Sanchez, who broke an ankle in the first-round playoff game against Los Angeles.
Without Medina and Sanchez, Monroe fell behind, 3-0, in the first 24 minutes.
"The worst part of it is, we'll never know what would have happened with Carlos playing," said Monroe Coach Les Sasvary, who guided the Vikings to their first Mid-Valley League title and first semifinal appearance.
Medina's absence was most apparent on Reseda's second goal, scored by Paul Vargas eight minutes into the game. A Monroe defender appeared to have chased down the ball, when Vargas caught up with him and kicked in the goal unchallenged by Medina's replacement, William Leal.
Reseda's dominance was short-lived. After Robert Faretta scored his second goal 23:30 into the game to give the Regents a 3-0 lead, Monroe dominated the rest of the way. Yuri Gutierrez brought Monroe to within one, 3-2, 8:02 into the second half, but Reseda goalie Danny Keeva made several saves to preserve the lead.
"After those first 20 minutes, I thought they completely dominated the rest of the game," Reseda Coach George Hull said.
The second half was marred by several fights. At the conclusion of the game, Monroe administrators tried to prevent Reseda's John Bellows from shaking hands with Monroe players.
Bellows had been ejected with less than 10 minutes to play for arguing a call. Bellows will not be allowed to play in the championship game unless an investigation clears him, according to City administrator Lee Joseph.
"There were a lot of dirty things going on and we weren't the ones initiating them," Sasvary said.
Hull denied any wrongdoing by his team.
"I think the last 30 minutes of the game were very rough," Hull said. "I thought there were some calls made against us that weren't committed by our players."
The championship game is scheduled for 7:30, with Westchester High the tentative site.
San Pedro 2, Chatsworth 1--The chances for an all-West Valley League title game ended on a controversial goal by San Pedro's Raul Haro with 12 minutes to play in the semifinal at San Pedro.
Haro scored his second goal after a pass off a throw-in but appeared to many--including a neutral coach--to be offsides.
Said North Hollywood Coach Lowell Thomas, who was in attendance: "It was blatant. I was right there where it happened and couldn't believe it."