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Defeat Pushes Esperanza to the Brink

February 03, 2001|DAN ARRITT

Kino Oaxaca is on the outside looking in for the first time in 14 years as Esperanza boys' soccer coach.

The Aztecs lost their third consecutive Sunset League game Friday, 2-1, to Huntington Beach, and are on the verge of missing the Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 1984.

Esperanza, ranked eighth in the county coming into the week, took a 1-0 lead early in the game, but the seventh-ranked Oilers scored twice in the second half, including an own goal by the Aztecs that tied the score, 1-1, just after halftime.

"This league is just so tough this season," said Oaxaca, who has guided the Aztecs to three section titles. "You can't afford to make any mistakes."

The three straight losses--all by 2-1 scores--have dropped the Aztecs (9-4-4, 3-4-1) into fifth place, three points behind third-place Fountain Valley (10-4-6, 4-3-1) with two games to play.

Before Esperanza lost to Marina on Wednesday, Oaxaca had never lost two consecutive league games. Now he believes it's the first time in school history the program has lost three in a row.

"It's been tough," said Oaxaca, who lost 12 players from last season's team to graduation. "We're kind of short-handed when it comes to league experience."

Huntington Beach, which lost its previous two games by 1-0 scores, can retake first place with a victory against Edison today in a makeup game. The Oilers (10-4-1, 5-2) currently trail Los Alamitos (15-3-5, 5-1-2) by two points.

Because the Sunset League is playing on Monday and Wednesday next week, the Oilers will play five league games in eight days.

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