“Do you know when Wilcox opened? 1961. Do you know what you guys just did? You just won the first CCS game in the history of Wilcox.”
That was the message from Wilcox Head Coach Tomas Montes to his squad after they knocked off higher-seeded Mountain View in the CCS Division III quarterfinal on Saturday.
Wilcox had previously qualified for CCS back in 1992, but lost their only playoff game that season.
The Chargers played the Spartans to a 0-0 draw after 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of extra time. That set up a penalty-kick shootout where Chargers shooters appeared to have ice in their veins.
Bryan Meza, Emael Talavera, Ivan Cvjetinovic and Quentin Berbessou all made their penalty kicks, while freshman goalkeeper Samuel Lopez made a big save in the third round.
In each round of the best-of-five shootout Wilcox would shot second. Ergo, with the Spartans missing their first attempt wide right and Lopez saving their third attempt, Berbessou’s fourth-round goal for Wilcox would clinch the victory, 0-0 (4-2 in penalties).
“It feels amazing,” said Berbessou — one of the Chargers’ two senior captains — on being the first Wilcox team to win a CCS playoff game. “I’m on top of the world right now.”
While there is something to be said about penalty kicks not being a great determinant of a winner in soccer, both sides played well enough to win during regulation and extra time. It is certainly not as if Wilcox just held on for dear life until penalty kicks. They played the Spartans tough all game long.
“I think we did a pretty good job, we held our ground,” said senior captain Brian Montiel. “It was about 50-50 possession, it was a good game by both teams.”
Despite the Chargers’ strong play, there were two particularly scary moments late in the contest.
At the very end of regulation, some miscommunication between Lopez and a Wilcox defender ended up in a handball being called on Lopez who was just outside the 18-yard box. Fortunately for Wilcox fans, the ensuing dangerous set piece would sail harmlessly high and wide. In the shootout, Meza’s opening-round kick went up off the crossbar and bounced almost straight down, barely bouncing behind the goal line before trickling towards the back of the net.
“My pulse stopped for a good three seconds there,” chuckled Chargers defender Ali Salehi on watching Meza’s shootout attempt hit the crossbar. “It was really relieving to see that hit the ground and go in. Bryan’s one of our best penalty takers so I didn’t expect anything less.”
With the win, Wilcox advanced to play Carmel.