TEMECULA ---- Chaparral used a pair of goals late in the first half on Wednesday to defeat Southwestern League leading Great Oak 3-1.
The win keeps the Pumas hopes of a Southwestern League title alive, as the champion will now be decided on Friday in the final round of league games. Great Oak (14-6-2, 7-2-0) needs only a win or a tie to clinch at least a share of the title in its final contest against Temecula Valley. Chaparral (10-6-4, 6-2-1) will need a win against Murrieta Valley and a loss or tie from Great Oak to be in contention.
"We have been focused since the beginning of the season on playing well on the road," Chaparral captain Mark Dito said.
In the two teams first meeting three weeks ago, Great Oak shutout Chaparral 3-0, and began Wednesday's contest in the same fashion. After being outshot 8-0 in the first 30 minutes, Chaparral was able to catch lightning in a bottle. In the 31st minute, a well placed throw in found Dito's foot in front of the goal, and the senior did not waste the opportunity, burying the ball in the back of the net.
Still riding the emotional wave four minutes later, Chaparral once again found itself with a throw deep in Great Oak territory and were able to repeat the feat. This time it was freshman Julian Wells who found himself in front of a wide open goal and easily slid it in.
"We worked on our throw ins coming into the game" Dito said. "We wanted to try to get that end post run, flick it in, and hope that someone would finish it. It worked today."
It was a reversal of fortunes for Great Oak, which has been successful using its own long throw-ins all season.
"(Chaparral) gave us a little bit of our own medicine today," Great Oak head coach Adam Skumawitz said. "They are difficult. It's a battle of wills in the air. It takes good timing, effort and courage. We didn't have it and they did."
The Wolfpack did manage a goal from Ariel Lassiter before the break to cut the deficit to one, but they would not get any closer.
"We created a lot of chances. They didn't fall today," Skumawitz said. "One mistake in the back, it turns the whole game. It was just one of those days."
The Pumas secured the victory with a third goal in the 61st minute by Austin Rizzo. Chaparral keeper Mario Mendez finished the game with eight saves, while Great Oak's Salem Bortcosh collected five.