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Fountain Valley Sails Past Edison for Title

February 10, 2000|DAVE McKIBBEN

Edison goalkeeper Joey Balbas was in the right place to stop Cliff McKinley's first-half penalty shot. But late in the second half, Balbas couldn't quite get himself in place to stop Sean Iliff's left-footed chip shot that seemed to float in the air forever.

When the ball finally came down, it took one hop and nestled into the left corner of the net. Five minutes later, Fountain Valley had a 1-0 victory and the Sunset League title.

"I saw him coming out and I thought I should put it over him," said Iliff, who scored his fourth goal in three games. "I just waited for it to go in. I was standing there, praying that it would."

And Balbas was praying he could beat Iliff to Aaron Siemers' pass. But Iliff got there first, and flicked it over Balbas at top left corner of the penalty box.

"He's faster than me," Balbas said. "I thought I could beat him with my speed, but I guess not. I started to go back, but it was too late."

Said Fountain Valley Coach Jason Smith: "We had been trying to isolate Iliff and get him the ball. But there was nothing set about that play. He just has a great nose for the ball."

Balbas, who missed Friday's victory over Esperanza with a foot injury, gave his team a lift with a diving save of McKinley's penalty kick. McKinley went to the right corner and Balbas extended himself to bat the ball back at McKinley, who launched a rebound shot well over the crossbar.

"I think it helped us for awhile," Balbas said. "We all started to realize we could win this thing. It's too bad it had to end this way."

Fourth-ranked Edison (15-4-2, 6-3-1), which would have edged Fountain Valley for first place with a victory Wednesday, finished second in league. Second-ranked Fountain Valley (16-2-3, 7-1-2), which was 2-7-1 in league last year, will probably be seeded no worse than third in the Division I playoffs.

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