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Mater Dei Cashes In on Key Call to Edge San Gorgonio


CERRITOS — As phantom calls go, this one was a doozy.

No one, except Mater Dei forward Bret Corbin, saw goalkeeper Jeremy Morales' foul that led to Corbin's penalty kick in Mater Dei's 2-1 victory over San Bernardino San Gorgonio in the Southern Section Division II boys' soccer final Saturday at Cerritos Gahr High.

"I didn't see it," San Gorgonio Coach Robbie Becker said. "To call something like that on a keeper coming out is surprising. They usually try to protect the keeper. The ball went out of bounds anyway. That play wasn't going to make a difference."

Even Mater Dei's coach, Martin Stringer, didn't see it.

"Honestly, I didn't," Stringer said.

The play started with a throw in by Corbin. Morales came out to challenge the ball and got tangled up with Mater Dei's Tony Micheletti. The referee blew his whistle and issued a yellow card to Morales, giving Corbin a penalty kick.

Corbin easily beat Morales to the right side in the 53rd minute to give Mater Dei a 2-0 lead that it barely managed to protect.

"He didn't tell me what I did," Morales said. "I can only assume I hit [Micheletti] late while challenging for a ball. I don't think he needed to award a penalty kick. I had the right to the ball too."

Corbin didn't see it that way.

"When Micheletti went up, the goalie came up and grabbed his face instead of the ball," he said.

The top-seeded Monarchs (24-1-3), who lost only to Capistrano Valley, also won Saturday because of goalkeeper Jeff McKeever's nine saves, his biggest coming in the closing minutes. He laid his body out to stop a 10-yard rocket by Charles Perkins with the Monarchs clinging to a 2-1 lead.

"That was a last-minute thing," McKeever said. "I didn't see the ball until the end. I sprung and caught it with my right hand."

One ball McKeever never saw was Steve Morales' bicycle kick a minute after the Perkins save.

"The bike surprised me," he said. "I wasn't ready for that. It was a great shot. I was fortunate it didn't go in."

It hit the crossbar but it bounced over the goal.

But McKeever wouldn't have been in a position to save it without Richard Jensen's goal seconds before the half--off a nice header by Micheletti--and without the inspired play of seniors Walter Camargo and Kris Hulgreen. Camargo, who missed the last six games because of appendicitis, gave everything he had for 20 minutes. Hulgreen missed more than half the game because of a badly bruised shin.

Third-seeded San Gorgonio (25-4-2) scored with 15 minutes left on Chase McIntosh and then pelted McKeever with four more shots before the whistle blew and the celebration began. It was the second such celebration at Gahr for Stringer's team in three years.

"I'll never forget either title, but this one's a little more special," Stringer said. "I'm a little closer to this group, especially Kris, who's been with me for four years."

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