New year, same Century.
The quality of play by Century High’s boys soccer team seldom varies. That is why the Centurions of Santa Ana, Calif., are one of the top teams in Orange County.
They enter 2014 with momentum gained from a 5-3 victory over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Tuesday (Dec. 31) in the Black Bracket championship match of the Arizona Soccer Showcase at the Reach 11 complex in north Phoenix.
Other bracket winners – Girls Black: Villa Park, Calif., def. Phoenix Pinnacle 2-0. Boys Maroon: Phoenix Mountain Pointe def. Glendale Copper Canyon in a shootout, 2-1. Girls Maroon: Phoenix Desert Vista def. Mountain Pointe 2-1.
Century’s triumph in the finale was even more noteworthy considering that they were playing with their starting goalkeeper for the second straight day. Edwin Minero suffered a hand injury, Brian Cruz took over and did a solid job.
And many of the players and coaches were dealing with flu-like symptoms that likely got their start at the team hotel, according to head coach Bruce Silverman.
Still, the Centurions pressed on.
They got a quick start with early goals from Brian Orozco and Ronaldo Pineda. They would go on to combine for all of Century’s goals, Pineda with a hat trick and Orozco with two.
Down 3-0 and in danger of being taken out of it, Sandra Day O’Connor found new life late in the first half with a goal by Skylar Meldrum off an assist from Ethan Ramsey.
Sandra Day O’Connor couldn’t connect on a close shot early, and Orozco added to the Eagles’ deficit with his second goal about 15 minutes into the second half.
The teams traded goals after that.
Kory Gilmore scored on a penalty kick for the Eagles, followed by Pineda’s third goal, in which he used a softer touch to get the ball in the net.
Musa Morris scored the final goal for Sandra Day O’Connor.
Century controlled the ball much of the time with its quickness, footwork and accurate passing.
“That’s what you have to do when you don’t have a lot of size like we do,’’ Silverman said. “You can’t be too physical. You just have one or two touches and go.’’