Mountain Soccer found themselves in an early goal deficit within the first five minutes of the game, but rallied the rest of the way to surge to a 3-1 win over no. 10 seed Independence in the CIF playoffs.
David Veszpeller helped the Warriors take the lead into halftime with a pair of goals in the 15th and 20th minutes, the first coming off a header from a Freddy Benitez cross and the second a through ball from Jose Barajas that was finished off in the goal box.
Barajas shut the door on any hope of a Falcon comeback with the game clinching score in the second period, beating a one-on-one with the keeper in the 63rd minute with a low shot finding the back of the net from 12 yards out.
“It was a good win and our guys did a good job adjusting from the early goal,” said head coach Roger Rijfkogel. “It always helps playing at home. As the game progressed we were able to play our game and wear them down.”
With the win, no. 7 seed Tehachapi earned the right to play the no. 2 seed Roosevelt Roughriders last Friday, which resulted in an 2-1 loss for the Warriors.
In a reversal of fortune from the first round playoff game, the Warriors were the ones that found themselves up early in the contest, with Victor Rodriguez sending a perfect corner kick near the goal and Jose Barajas finishing with a header for a 1-0 lead.
The advantage lasted nearly the entire first half, with the favored Roughriders eventually tying the game at 1-1 with just under five minutes remaining before intermission.
The second half turned out to be a defensive battle for both teams, with Roosevelt eventually scoring the winning goal at the 60th minute.
The Warriors left everything out on the field after faced with the deficit, firing six shots on goal in the final 20 minutes in an attempt to tie.
“We had good execution near the end and we had our scoring opportunities. We just came up a little short,” added Rijfkogel. “We were putting the pressure on them. Another 10 minutes I think we would have scored. We just ran out of time.”
Zach Satton had five saves against Independence and 10 saves against Roosevelt at his goalie position.
Despite the loss, Tehachapi (19-7-1) ends the year with one of the best seasons in school history, finishing in third place in the SEYL and the top eight in Division III of the CIF Central Section. Seniors playing their final season for THS include Julian Chavez, Chris Boyd, Cameron Gamble, Hunter Kenyon, Jose Barajas, Mark Minjares, Jeremy Duff, Kevin Rooney and Lucas Rowe.
“We had a solid group this year, great leadership and a good record,” Rijfkogel said. “Looking back at the whole season, I’m proud of what our guys accomplished.”