In the film, For the Love of the Game, the Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel (played by Kevin Costner) is in the midst of a perfect game. At the top of the 8th, he walks out to the mound and looks at the scoreboard. Zeros straight across. He takes a long pause to comprehend what he was unaware of. His catcher Gus Sinski (played by actor John C. Rielly), joins him on the mound for an intimate exchange.
"How you doing Ace?, asks Gus.
Billy replies, "Anybody been on base?"
"Nobody." says, Gus.
"Nobody?" Chapel responds with unsure surprise.
Gus breaths a heavy sign, "This I ain't seem much of".
"Huh, me neither." replies Chapel.
Gus interjects, "Chappy, I never have!"
Billy walks off the mound unsure of himself, beaten, battered, exhausted.
"What's the matter?" asks Gus.
"I'd know if I have anything left." Chappy confides in Gus his deepest fear.
Gus waves the umpire off, asking for a few extra moments with his pitcher. He stops Chappy and pulls him in close. "Chappy, you just throw whatever you got. Whatever's left! The boys are all here for you. We'll back you up. We'll be there, cause Billy, …we don't stink right now! We're the best team in baseball right now, right this minute, because of you. You're the reason. We're not going to screw that up. We're going to be awesome for you right now! Just throw."
Perhaps this author is being a tad bit melodramatic, but this scene sums up the Cuyamaca College Men's Soccer season to THIS very moment as they stare at a potential unbelievable state title opportunity with their win over the top seeded team from the North, Santa Rosa last night 2-3.
On a frigid, damp night, the Coyotes battled in what will go down as one of the most dramatic matches of the season and perhaps in the history of the team. The Coyotes have already surpassed all expectations in securing a berth in the final four in the 3C2A State Championship tournament and going in were the lowest ranked team of the four colleges. However, Head Coach Brian Hiatt-Aleu, like Billy Chapel is pitching the game of his life although battered, bruised, exhausted.
Injuries were a major storyline of last night's victory and may play a part in the lineup for Sundays final match. Marco Santillan returning from a broken collarbone sustained earlier in the season, quickly found himself back to being a vital weapon for the Coyotes. However, in minutes into the first OT period, a hard tackle and fall re-injured the arm and later that night it was confirmed that Marco had re-broken the collarbone. Pablo Torres again shows why he is one of the best goal keepers certainly in the conference but perhaps in the state and a key factor in why the Coyotes are in the State Championship game. Pablo was an 'Iron Shield'. Blocking countless shots on goal by the Bear Cubs. But what was more impressive and shows why this team is special, at the end of the game, Pablo sought the Cuyamaca Athletic Trainer Lyman Connolly out and needed assistance with removing his glove. During the regular game periods, the Bear Cub forward launched a rocket straight for Pablo. Torres blocked the goal and deflected the ball out. However, in that moment, he felt something and it wasn't good. Pablo had fractured a bone in his wrist. The grit of this team, is exampled in Pablo who didn't let anyone know about the injury but continue to play through the remainder of the regular time and two additional 15-minute OT periods. However, though Marco and Pablo will be sidelined for the final match against El Camino, the team has backups ready to go.
As for the game, the Coyotes were loose and ready. Red Shirt player Alejandro Perez shared the team's preparation for this big match. "We brought an HDMI cable to do film review. Without the coaches knowing, we all gathered in a room and we watched a Santa Rosa game. We studied their play, their setups and how we needed to play them. At the end, we felt ready"
The preparation showed. The Coyotes played loose and didn't panic when Santa Rosa scored that first goal. All tournament, the Coyotes have let the other opponent score first to rally back and win. This night was no exception. The seesaw battle of the two teams was intense and exhilarating for the three to four hundred fans that were in attendance. Going into the half, an error by the Bear Cubs and pressure from the Coyotes resulted in a Coyotes goal to tie the score 1-1. The next eight minutes were amazing with both Santa Rosa and Cuyamaca scoring. Santa Rosa's Sam Nolan found a breakaway opportunity to go 1 on 1 with Pablo Torres and won that matchup sending the Bear Cubs up 2-1. However, Venizio Dimas got the Coyotes right back in it with an unassisted shot of his own keeping the Coyotes in contention to end the half with a 2-2 score.
The second half was a game of chess. The Coyotes attacked, while the Bear Cubs defended. The Bear Cubs attacked and the Coyotes took away. In one particularly controversial play, Diego Garcia scored a beautiful goal to send the Coyotes up 2-3 but the goal was called back for offside. To everyone's surprise including the video team and opposing coaching staff, the referee missed a crucial call. However, with that score taken off the scoreboard, the time ran out and the Bear Cubs and Coyotes would have to settle for 30 minutes more of overtime.
Both teams were exhausted. The trainers worked double duty assisting several players who broke down succumbing to cramping and other injuries. Both coaching staffs had to be concerned. However, in the eighth minute of the first OT period, Enrique Rodriguez worked some magic and slid a beautiful shot past the Santa Rosa keeper to put the Coyotes up 2-3 and this time the score stuck. Now, the Coyotes only needed to withstand the barrage of the Bear Cubs shots on goal for the next twenty-two minutes.
When the final whistle blew, the Coyotes were victorious and would move onto the final game to battle for the California State title. Their opponent will be the SoCal #1 seeded El Camino. Game time is set for 2pm Sunday December 3rd at Mt. Sac's west soccer field. For the Cuyamaca College Coyotes, now, like Gus Sinski urging Billy Chapel to just muster another inning of baseball… the Coyote men's soccer team need to find one more match in them to finish the perfect season.