Beach Channel Title Dreams Speared By John Adams
And the opponent was familiar. They were facing divisional rival John Adams for the fourth time this season.
Beach Channel didn't have to do much scouting of a team they tied with in three regular season games.
But last Sunday, John Adams broke the deadlock with a strong effort by Samuel Archer, who scored two goals as the Spartans shutout Beach Channel, 3-0.
Eduardo Flores watched the opposition hoist their first ever soccer championship. John Adams lost in penalty kicks in the B final in 2006. The senior defender watched his Dolphins lie on the turf a tired and beaten up team.
Striker and leading scorer Marlon Velasquez was hobbling with a right knee and didn't play for most of the second half. The Dolphins couldn't muster a comeback this time.
"I don't know. We were ready," Flores said. We didn't play bad but two mistakes cost us the game."
According to coach Dominick Stanco, John Adams was the aggressive team and made the most of their chances. And the Dolphins may have been a bit nervous, which added to their bad day.
"They were just the better team. They have good defense, they are well organized and they have two goalies (Emre Onur, who had 8 saves and backup Daniel Neto) who can start on any team," Stanco said. "They played a great game on a day they needed to."
John Adams drew first blood in the 19th minute of the first half. Johny Silva, tucked in a loose rebound and into the corner of the net to lead 1-0.
The Dolphins had their golden opportunity to tie the game. But curiously the referee did not call a 32nd minute foul, which had Velasquez being tripped inside the goalkeeper box by a John Adams defender.
Even John Adams looked resigned into believing it was a penalty. But the referee trailing the play didn't see what would have been a penalty kick chance for Beach Channel.
Instead, a free kick was awarded and the Dolphins couldn't connect for a tying goal.
But the missed call was easily a momentum changer. Stanco, who looked incensed on the sideline, argued the call along with his players, but to no avail.
TArcher took over in the second half as their leading goalscorer made it 2-0 in the 57th minute of the second half. He was awarded a penalty kick in the 63rd minute when Dolphins goalkeeper Alpha Dia tripped the Rutgersbound forward inside the box. Archer then made the score 3-0.
The admiration between the two teams is mutual according to winning coach Hector Navarette, whose team will likely move up to the A division next year.
"It says a lot. These two teams deserve to get to the finals. Hats off to them," Navarette said.
"He (Velasquez) was playing with injuries but he and the team showed a lot of heart. From the first minute to the last, they never gave up."
If Beach Channel remain in the B Division, the Dolphins who do come back next year have a championship goal to achieve.
Stanco had a few days to reflect on the loss, which he admitted was very tough for him to accept.
But he has done so while giving plenty of praise towards his Dolphins for a fine season.
"I know that I'll lose Marlon and Eduardo, Alpha and Chris (Frey) but I got a lot of pieces coming back.My team played with a lot of heart."