Eagle kickers flying high with tourney title victory

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The Granite Hills High School boys soccer team overcame a slow start to the season by winning the Gold Division championship trophy at last Saturday’s finals of the San Diego County Cup/Quin Murphy Tournament at Hilltop High School in Chula Vista.

The Granite Hills High School boys soccer team ap­pears to be trending upward at just the right time of the season.

The Eagles improved their record to 4-5-3 after pulling off a penalty kick tiebreaker win over the Montgomery Aztecs in last Saturday’s Gold Divi­sion championship game of the San Diego County Cup/Quin Murphy Tournament at Hilltop High School.

Granite Hills kicked off the 2019-20 season in disappoint­ing fashion with a 0-3-2 record (three losses, two ties) but has since rebounded with a 4-2-1 mark (four wins, two losses and one tie) in its last seven games.

“This is a great way to go into league,” Granite Hills head coach Jason Heth said in regard to his team’s new-found momen­tum.

Neither team scored in regu­lation or two sudden-victory overtime periods in last Satur­day’s tournament championship game to necessitate the penalty kick tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker went seven rounds before a winner was de­cided to conclude the marathon match.

Senior Abdulrahman Ismael scored from the penalty dot to give his team a 6-5 edge in the shootout tiebreaker. The Eagles clinched the victory when se­nior goalkeeper Bradley Ramos dove high to his left to deflect a shot by Montgomery sopho­more Julian Garcia.

Ramos also scored in the tie­breaker round to keep his team in position to snatch the dramatic victory.

Heth said is not uncommon for a goalkeeper to take a shot on another goalkeeper in the penalty shootout.

“He has a lot of confidence that he can score,” the GHHS coach said.

“As a shooter, I pick my spot before I even get to the ball,” said Ramos, who made numerous saves during regulation and overtime to keep the match scoreless. “As a goalie, I read hips. I watch which way their hips are facing — that’s the way I dive.”

The Eagles received shoot­out goals from seniors Arnold Barraza and Oscar Rodriguez, junior Dany Hanko, and seniors Russell Webb, Ramos and Is­mael.

Ramos blocked two shots in the seven-round tiebreaker.

The tournament final was the third game in four days for Granite Hills, which had battled visiting Oceanside to a 0-0 draw the previous evening in non-league play.

The Eagles were also bat­tling injuries during the holiday break.

“Everybody contributed in one way or another,” said Heth, whose team finished with three wins in four tournament games. “We had two tough back-to-back games. They (the Aztecs) beat us 2-0 in the Grossmont Holiday Classic just before Christmas, so this was a good win for us. I was proud of the discipline shown by my players, their tenacity and hard work.”

The tournament finals were delayed due to rainouts. Granite Hills kicked off pool play Dec. 23 with a 4-0 win over Valley Cen­ter, then dropped a 7-2 decision to Bonita Vista on Dec. 26.

The Eagles rebounded in mighty fashion with a 2-1 upset over third-ranked Hilltop in the tourney semifinals on Dec. 28.

Ismael echoed his coach’s words about the team’s recent turnaround in the results col­umn.

“Our hard work paid off,” Is­mael said “We’ve been really working hard in practice.”

Granite Hills is scheduled to host Steele Canyon High School on Thursday, Jan. 16, and El Capitan High School on Tues­day, Jan. 21, in Grossmont Valley League play. Both games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. starts.

Eagle kickers flying high with tourney title victory

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