After finishing the season second in league with a 14-4-1 record, the boys’ soccer team suffered a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks to Los Alamitos High School in the second round of CIF Playoffs.
The Wolverines tied Los Alamitos 1-1 in regulation before falling 4-3 in penalty kicks.
A Jonah Carloss ’16 goal off a free kick in the last minute of regulation sent the game into overtime.
Following a scoreless overtime, the game headed into penalties.
“The first thing that went through my mind [when Carloss scored] was the positive impact that it created for us, and the negative impact it created for the other team,” head coach Lucas Bongarra said. “It looked like we were really in the driver’s seat heading into overtime. I don’t think they expected us to tie that game.”
In the first round at Ted Slavin Field, the team received a scare from Camarillo High School on Feb. 21. The game was scoreless for a full 70 minutes before midfielder Myles Pindus ’15 was able to convert on a free kick from 19 yards out, allowing the Wolverines to stay in playoff contention.
In the second round, the team experienced the highest of highs with Carloss’ season-extending goal, but suffered the lowest of lows in losing during penalty kicks and getting jousted from the playoffs in the second round.
The team’s loss came a day after the girls’ soccer team also lost in a penalty shootout, as both teams had similarly disappointing playoff-ending losses in the second round.
“The game was just a rollercoaster of emotions,” center defender Parker Converse ’15 said. “Just when we thought we were out of it, [Carloss] scored and we were right back in it. I think we got a little unlucky in penalty kicks, and it was pretty frustrating to lose in that way.”
The team was without suspended center midfielder Jadon Yariv ’16 for the game. Yariv played in a showcase out of California, which is a violation of CIF rules, and the Harvard-Westlake athletic department had to reveal the infraction to avoid the risk of playoff forfeiture.
Despite the early playoff exit, both Bongarra and Converse consider the team’s season to be a success.
Converse cited the squad’s undefeated record against perennial power and league champion Loyola as the highlight of the team’s season.
“I thought it was a really great season, especially if you compare it to past seasons,” Converse said. “It was definitely the most fun I’ve had on a Harvard-Westlake soccer team. Even though we lost in the playoffs early, looking back on the season we have to be happy, especially because we were able to beat Loyola at their own field.”
Bongarra is optimistic about the program going forward. Even though the team is losing leading goal scorers Myles Pindus ’15 and Henry Quilici ’15, as well as stalwart defenders Converse and Cole Fletcher ’15, Yariv returns alongside a crop of young talent.
“The freshmen that we had this year played very well,” Bongarra said. “The offseason is going to be important for us so we can stay sharp until next season. It’s really hard to tell how we are going to be next year, but I think we can be really good.”