Boys Soccer: Lowell comes back to beat Lincoln for second-consecutive AAA title

The Lowell boys soccer team celebrates with the AAA championship trophy on Saturday at Boxer Stadium. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

So many of Lowell High School’s wins in the past two seasons have been blowouts, but the Cardinals were pushed to the brink again in the Academic Athletic Association championship game on Saturday.

Lowell rallied back from an early 1-0 deficit, then withstood a frenetic push from Lincoln in the final minutes of a 2-1 win at Boxer Stadium.

The win not only gives the Cardinals (20-0) their second-consecutive AAA title, but also extended Lowell’s league win streak to 38.

Lowell senior goalkeeper Eduardo Camacho hauls in a loose ball against Lincoln on Saturday at Boxer Stadium. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lowell senior Jesus Sanchez broke a 1-1 tie in the 51st minute, when he outran the Lincoln defense on a long clearance from Lowell defender Edgar Torres. Sanchez was alone on a breakaway with Lincoln goalkeeper Martin Arreola, who slid in to make a save on Sanchez’s first shot, but the rebound bounced directly back to Sanchez, who kneed the ball into the open net.

“I was at midfield and I saw [the defender] two feet behind me,” Sanchez said. “I knew that if I got a long ball, I would smoke him.”

The desperate Mustangs responded with a late surge, but just could not get the ball past Lowell senior goalkeeper Eduardo Camacho.

The best chance Lincoln had to equalize came in the 77th minute, on a play that was as exciting as it was frantic.

Lincoln senior Kendall Kwan chipped a picture-perfect ball from the right wing that fell just below the crossbar, but Camacho leaped up to knock the ball away. The ball caromed out into the Lowell penalty area, where another Lincoln player sent a shot on net, only to be saved by a Lowell defender on the goal line. Again, the ball went out into a scrum of players in the penalty area, and the Mustangs sent another shot on net. Out of position, Camacho again leaped to punch the ball out of harm’s way.

“It was pretty crazy,” Camacho said. “I actually wasn’t thinking that much. Like my coach says, I do better when I don’t think. It was mostly reaction and I tried to save my team from going into overtime.”

Camacho had six total saves, but none were as important as the four he had in the final 17 minutes.

“It was like time stood still,” said Lowell head coach Marcos Estebez. “Eduardo was unbelievable. I’ve never seen that kind of athletic play from him. Today he was brilliant.”

After Lincoln took an early lead in the eighth minute on junior Felipe Herrera’s second goal of the postseason, the Cardinals answered in the 30th.

Lowell sophomore Aaron Moye sends a shot into the net for the Cardinals' first goal of the game against Lincoln on Saturday at Boxer Stadium. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lowell junior defender Avery Fisher sent a high-arcing free kick into the penalty area from midfield and the Lincoln defense converged on Lowell standout senior forward Cameron BaSaing.

The ball sailed over BaSaing’s head, however, and Lowell sophomore Aaron Moye found himself all alone with Arreola.

Moye calmly collected the ball and buried it into the right side of the net.

As the final whistle sounded, Lowell erupted into jubilation while the Mustangs (13-5-1) appeared somber and frustrated.

“It hurts,” said Lincoln head coach Kenyatta Scott. “We amped up the pressure in the last 10 minutes to try to pop one in and we had six chances. It just didn’t happen.”

Estebez has yet to lose a game in his first two seasons at the helm of the varsity program, but could face his greatest challenge next year replacing nine key seniors.

“[Winning every game] is the goal, but we’re going to use so many seniors this year, it’s probably unrealistic,” Estebez said. “Our goal next year will be to get to the playoffs. Then we’ll see what happens.”

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10 Comments

  1. Lincoln says:

    Enjoy it now Lowell..Because next year without your starting Seniors…Say Bye Bye to that undefeated streak and goodbye to playoffs. Congrats on the Win though. Better start looking for a good keeper (;

  2. Lowell player says:

    Hey Jeremy,
    The clear that Chava ran down for the second goal was from sophomore stopper William Slotterback. Torres didn’t play.

  3. Cardinals says:

    Everyone keeps saying how Lowell’s streak is gonna end next year and just being bitter jerks about it. We know that were not gonna go undefeated next year! No one at Lowell is under the impression that the soccer team is just never going to lose. So how about people just recognize that Lowell made history today and talk next year with their game. I think Mission will win it all next year, Lowell, Wash, and Lincoln are all losing basically their whole team.

  4. Lowell says:

    Lowell Deserved it!! They played so much better than LINCOLN!!

  5. Lincoln says:

    Lincoln still has Good players besides the seniors.

  6. Nate says:

    Congrats to Lowell on a spectacular season. They beat Mission and Lincoln twice. That’s not luck. That’s the mark of a deserved champion.

    I attended the game with my brother, and here are some of my observations about the game:

    1) Due to the rain and the fact that Boxer has natural grass, the movement of the ball was bound to be slow, and build-up attacks were harder to muster than if the game had been played on turf. As a result, the scoring from both teams came on long passes directly to a finishing player. If my memory serves correctly, Lowell’s first goal was scored off a long cross to their left outside midfielder, while Lincoln’s first goal in the game and Lowell’s second were scored on long balls played up to a forward who beat defenders and finished well.

    2) To my mind, Lowell had slightly superior organization in the midfield, both in the center of the field and on the wings. More importantly, Lowell had superior composure. When LIncoln scored their first goal, Lowell kept their calm and soon equalized. Lincoln, on the hand, became consumed with the referees as the game went on. Instead of hustling back to get into the play, Lincoln players were actually running towards the ref to vent. I’m sorry, but when you start pleading your case to the refs during the game, the only thing you are doing is preparing to lose. Have a quick but respectful word with the ref one time if you have to, then move on.

    3) The Lincoln coaches seemed pretty upset, but I thought the ref made the right call during the scrum at the end of the game. After a series of shots the ball ended up in a pack of players, and the Lowell keeper made a courageous effort to gain control of the ball. If a keeper does this, he runs the risk of getting kicked, and that is not the fault of the Lincoln players. Moreover, it is often unclear when the keeper gains control of the ball, and until that point Lincoln is well within its rights to aggressively kick at the ball.

    It seemed to me that the referee determined that the Lowell keeper had possession of the ball, and in order to prevent injury, he whistled the play dead. Technically, I believe that when play resumes after a whistle, it’s a drop ball. In the professional leagues, when one team is in possession and the play is stopped, the opposing team graciously kicks it back. And yet, the ref dropped the ball right in front of the Lowell keeper. This seemed fair to me, because you can’t just have a drop ball in front of the goal in such a competitive game. Lincoln may not have given the ball back to Lowell. So I think the ref did the right thing. He could have called a phantom foul so that Lowell could have a free kick, but what he did was probably the best other option. (If I am wrong in reading of the situation, feel free to correct me.)

    • GCJ01 says:

      Great observations Nate. Both teams did good and it was a fight ’til the very end.

    • Ken Jew, one of the officails. says:

      Hi Nate,

      Great obserations! Lincoln players lost focus on playing the game,
      they began to blame us for everything. When a player does that, it usually shows that he / she has lost the confidence and interest on playing, not to mention the game plan. There were multiple players on the Mustangs did just that. Resulting in cautions and being sent to the bench.

      I have officiated many play-off and championship games over the years, by far this is the most exciting game, it was well played by both sides at a very rapid pace. Officials need to allow the players to play at their highest level, we will adjust the “foul bar”. Coaches and players usually like to see the flow, as long as the contacts are safe and no one looses possession of the ball, the referee will let it flow. When the players complain about non-calls, that means they don’t want to play at that level and we lower the bar. I am pretty sure you saw more foul calls for both sides in the second half, and the fans started screaming an yelling negative remarks toward us. Guess what? That just send a message to the players, focus on the referees, not the game!

      As for the drop-ball near the end of the game, the Lowell keeper did have both hands on the ball when he was kicked on the head. I was the closest official and Alex the center official was near by in a different angle. We did not call a foul because both players had 50/50 chance to play the ball an it was incidental contact.. The stoppage was resulted from the injured keeper, especially head impacts. Officials and coaches are required to check for concussion before play can resume, high school rules. Since Lowell’s keeper had possion of the ball, the restart should be an indirect free kick for Lowell, also high school rules. But Alex gave a drop-ball back to the keeper becaucse he did not want to take away the adventage, a goal keeper punts farther than a free kick.

      • GCJ 01 says:

        It’s nice to see that even the game officials check out this site.

        Ken Jew: Thanks for the explaination of that rule! You also hit on another point, atheletes these days seem to lack the mental focus that they need to play sports. I’m not saying this is true for all atheletes, but things weren’t like this ten years ago (or at least it wasn’t as bad as it is now). Besides focusing on the physical aspects of the game, coaches need to also teach their players how to be mentally tough. Once a player’s mentality is gone, the rest is soon to follow.

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