Patriots’ win puts Warriors on the road for regionals

STEPHENS CITY — Park View freshman Rember Garcia scored four goals in his team’s Conference 21 semifinal victory over Heritage last week, so he figured he might as well pick up two more when they counted most Tuesday night. His pair of points helped lead Patriots to a 3-1 championship victory over Sherando at Arrowhead Stadium.

The conference tournament champs will play the runner-up in Conference 23 June 1 in a home match in the Region 4A North first round, while the Warriors will hit the road on the same date to meet the champion of the same league.

Conference third-seeded Park View (12-1-4) and top-seeded Sherando (14-3-2) tied 1-1 in the regular season.

“He scores a lot of goals (18), but he says it’s unusual for him to bunch so many in back-to-back games,” said a Garcia teammate who translated for him after the Patriots received their championship trophy and posed for pictures.

Rain poured down on the Sherando campus just minutes after lightning had eliminated the final seconds of the match. With so little time remaining, officials called the contest on the field.

Park View, whose roster was noticeably shorter than its host, was electrifying itself. Winning coach Arturo Jimenez said his team played possession soccer throughout the match, and the Patriots’ foot-speed was a big reason why the visitors dominated on Tuesday.

“Our aim was to play possession-by-possession and hold the ball as long as we could because we were wary of [Tommy Buono and Sherando teammate Andrew Wade] from the first time we played them,” said Jimenez.

In so doing, he dropped three — sometimes four — men on the defensive half to slow down the speedy pair of Warriors.

The Patriots seemed to be a half-step quicker to the ball than the Warriors and played outstanding defense, holding Sherando to one Seth Wade goal. Buono, his team’s meteoric point-maker, earned an assist on the shot. He had converted hat tricks in each of the Warriors’ previous two Conference 21 games, leading up to the final.

“It just seemed like they were quicker to the ball and kept possession more than we were able to,” said Sherando senior defender Zach Wagner.“But maybe this will be good for us. We can learn from it and realize we have to play 40 minutes.”

“I think it can help us,” said Sherando coach Pat Anderson. “They’re a team that has good finishers, so you can’t give them space. That was the problem tonight. We gave them too much space.”

“We were able to see some things on film (from the first match on April 24) that we needed to improve on, and one of them was our defense,” said Jimenez.

Sherando drew first blood in the 22nd minute when Buono found Wade for the score on an offensive set piece. ThSeth Wade drilled the ball just out Park View goalkeeper Erick Aviles’ reach for the 1-0 advantage.

That play seemed to wake up the Patriots, as Melvin Guardado answered in the 29th minute to tie the match.

Seven minutes later, Garcia played his own rebound over Sherando senior keeper Kevin Riley, who nonetheless recorded four stops.

His final score of the night came in the 72nd minute.

Park View attempted 15 shots on goal, while Sherando put up seven tries. The Warriors tried just one corner kick all night.

“They’re aggressive and play a fast-paced game,” Anderson said.

The victory was Park View’s seventh in a row, while the defeat halted Sherando’s string of successes at eight. The Warriors had not lost a match since April 11.