Thursday, October 24, 2002
INDEPENDENCE -- Jose Hernandez scored the game-winning goal in the 29th minute as Central nailed down fourth place in District 1 on Oct. 21 with a 2-1 victory against visiting Newport.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute, but Central's Shin-Hee Seo tied it on a penalty kick in the 25th minute. The Panthers were awarded the free kick when forward Victor Alvarez was taken down in the penalty area.
The game-winning goal came four minutes later. Hernandez dribbled the ball laterally across the top of the box, faked a pass to a teammate and used the outside of his right foot to flick a shot to the far post, catching the Newport keeper off guard.
"He kind of caught the goalie leaning the wrong way," Central coach Rich Abrams said. "It was a good, heads-up goal."
Central's defense and goalkeeper Ugo Gomez made the lead stand up, although there was a nervous moment late in the game when a Newport shot caromed off the crossbar.
"It wasn't a spectacular game for us," Abrams said. "We moved a bunch of freshmen up from the junior varsity because they're done. We had a lot more people playing. We didn't just keep the starters in there. We moved players around a little bit, and that gave me a look at what some different people can do."
The Panthers have struggled to score goals for most of the season but had an offensive explosion on Oct. 17 in a 7-0 rout of visiting Taft. Hernandez, Gomez and Seth Thompson all scored twice, and Victor Alvarez had one goal.
"We pretty well came together that day," Abrams said. "We beat them like we should have beat them. Basically, we were passing well, and we were running against them pretty good. We were getting players open, creating situations and hitting shots, which is important."
Central now will open the league playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 24 at home against the fifth-place team, most likely Rainier/Clatskanie. The top three finishers in the league playoffs advance to the state tournament.