The Score: Half Moon Bay 2, Hillsdale 0.
The Star: Half Moon Bay High’s Peter Sarabia was the engine of a Cougar attack that was relentless for long stretches. The attacking center midfielder assisted on the first goal and helped control the pace as host HMB clinched the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division championship in a winner-takes-all finale on Wednesday night.
The Turning Point: Half Moon Bay’s first goal. Sarabia fed forward Miguel Vasquez with a nice ball down the left side in the 17th minute and the Cougars’ leading scorer flicked a shot over Hillsdale goalie Chris Loo and into the top right corner of the net. Hillsdale entered the day trailing HMB by one point in the league standings, meaning the Knights needed a win – and not a tie – to clinch the PAL Ocean title. In terms of championship implications, Vasquez’s early strike gave HMB a two-goal lead – which proved plenty.
The Quote: “This is the rebuild of a program that went awry for three or four years. This is the big, big, giant step.” – Half Moon Bay second-year coach Victor Mederos, on the culmination of a season in which the Cougars went 11-1-2 to win the PAL Ocean.
What’s Next? The Central Coast Section playoffs. With Wednesday’s victory, Half Moon Bay secured the PAL Ocean’s lone automatic postseason berth. The Cougars will have a playoff opener next Tuesday or Wednesday, and Mederos believes there is a strong chance his team will host that game.
The Bottom Line: In an elimination setting, Half Moon Bay prevailed in decisive fashion to clinch what is believed to be the program’s first league title since the mid-1980’s. The Cougars also landed their first CCS playoff berth since 2003. Half Moon Bay could have won the PAL Ocean championship and postseason bid with a draw – and Hillsdale tied the Cougars 2-2 in the teams’ previous meeting – but HMB was the far superior team on Wednesday. Miguel (Piti) Carrillo’s 48th-minute goal padded the lead after the Cougars had dominated the first half but only had a 1-0 advantage to show for their efforts.
Half Moon Bay 2, Hillsdale 0
At Half Moon Bay
Scoring: HMB: M. Vasquez (Sarabia) 17:00, HMB: Carrillo 48:00.
Records: Half Moon Bay 15-2-5, 11-1-2 PAL Ocean. Hillsdale 13-5-2, 10-3-1.