By MARK DITTMER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Santa Rosa men’s soccer team overcame a slow start in its first round playoff game Saturday and appeared to take control of the game, creating some beautiful scoring opportunities in the process, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
Unfortunately for the Bear Cubs, none of those chances led to goals. All those missed opportunities came home to roost in the game’s 80th minute, when Frank Murillo of visiting Cabrillo College scored on a cross that wasn’t pretty, giving the Seahawks a 1-0 victory.
“I just passed it, hoping that someone was going to be there,” said Cabrillo forward David Mondragon, whose assist set up Murillo. “Thankfully, Frank was there. We just managed to get a goal when we needed one.”
Which is exactly what the Bear Cubs were unable to do. After starting on their heels and letting Cabrillo dominate for the game’s first 10 minutes, the Santa Rosa men managed to even things out and controlled the flow of the game for the remainder of the first half and much of the second.
But Santa Rosa did not convert any of its possession time into goal-scoring.
“We couldn’t put our opportunities away,” defender Cody Martin said. “Our backs played solid, except for that one mistake. And on offense, we got it into their zone but we couldn’t take that last little step.”
Perhaps no player had a better view of how agonizingly close the Bear Cubs came to scoring than did Miguel Galvan. The freshman out of Piner had three crosses that seemed likely to wind up in the Cabrillo net, but none of them ultimately were converted into goals.
One of those crosses resulted in a Julio Ortiz header off the post midway through the second half, when the game was still scoreless. “I thought it was going to be in the goal,” said Galvan. “The corner kick was the same thing.”
The corner kick came later, with Santa Rosa furiously trying to tie the game in the final minutes. A contested head ball had gone out of bounds on the endline, with possession going to Santa Rosa and with Cabrillo forward Mondragon splitting open his forehead on the play.
After a sub went in for the badly bleeding Mondragon, Galvan left-footed a perfect corner kick that landed a foot or two away from the far post. For Santa Rosa head coach Marty Kinahan, the play was painful to watch.
“I can’t explain that last corner,” Kinahan said. “It just hung up there, and nobody wanted to be the guy to kick it in. I was screaming ‘back post!’ but I think we were a little undecided.”
It was a difficult moment at the end of a hard loss, made tougher by the fact that Santa Rosa had beaten Cabrillo earlier in the year.
“The playoffs are unforgiving,” Kinahan said. “It’s win or go home. That’s what great about it, but that’s what’s tough about it, too. They’re a good team, they’re well-coached. I think it was their day, not ours.”
Ikaika Matas, Marco Perez, and Denis Alvarado also took shots on goal, but Cabrillo goalie Cesar Rocha stopped them all. The Bear Cubs played without Montgomery High product Octavio Estupinan for the fifth straight game due to injury.
“We had fun this year,” said Galvan. “You never come out of a loss happy. But we had a good run. We won our conference. And that team (Cabrillo) was better than us today.”