By Lou Ponsi
WESTMINSTER >> The Servite boys soccer team found a way to win the close games throughout the playoffs.
The Friars did it again Saturday in the season’s biggest game.
Daniel Gutierrez’s goal five minutes into overtime gave Servite a 2-1 victory over San Pasqual of Escondido in the CIF Southern California Division I Regional final at Westminster High School.
HISTORY MADE‼️— Servite Soccer (@ServiteSoccer) March 6, 2022
Daniel Gutierrez scores the game winner off the assist from Eddie Villeda, 2-1 Friars!
CIF State Regional Champions‼️ pic.twitter.com/WSkl0ayvYH
The regional championship is the first in school history for the Friars (24-2-2), who were the top seed in the regional.
“The entire year was belief,” Servite coach Eddie Soto said. “Believe in each other and believe in themselves.”
A yellow card against the No. 3 seed Golden Eagles (18-5-6) gave Servite a free kick to the right of the goal, about 30 yards out.
Eddie Villeda, who Soto called the best player in the state, took the free kick, sending an arcing ball into a scrum in front of the net.
Gutierrez, who had been in and out of the lineup throughout the playoffs, got his foot on the ball before it hit the ground and tapped it high into the goal.
“Today, looking at the matchup, I felt it was a good matchup for him to be at center back, and how fitting is it that he gets the game winner,” Soto said.
Villeda, who has a school record 23 assists, picked up assists on both of Servite’s goals.
“Hard work pays off,” Villeda said. “I’m happy that we won.”
Five minutes into the game, Villeda beat a defender to the ball on the right side of the goal and made a perfect cross pass into the box to Kevin Sanchez, who shot the ball into the goal, giving the Friars a 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, because Angel Ramirez scored for San Pasqual less than a minute later.
There would be no more scoring in regulation although both teams had their share of opportunities on set pieces.
Villeda missed a goal by inches when he shot from a wide angle, from left to right, sending the ball just past the right goal post.
Two of the Friars’ three games prior to Saturday were decided on penalty kicks.
Servite and Trinity League rival JSerra played to a 1-1 tie in the CIF SS Division 1 championship game on Feb. 25. The Friars then won 3-0 on penalty kicks.
Servite and Mira Costa played to a 1-1 tie in the regional semifinal on Thursday, March 3.
After a scoreless 15-minute overtime period, the Friars won on penalty kicks, 5-4.
“Those are signs of good teams,” Soto said. “This is a great team because we overcame a lot of adversity. To win a championship, you need luck, you need adversity and you need to have belief and that was in our hearts for the whole season.”