BARSTOW • The Barstow High School soccer team came within two minutes of a tie game on Wednesday.
The Aztecs fell 4-2 to University Prep in a game that saw several swings in momentum. The game was tied 2-2 with a minute left in the game when Barstow's defense was called for a questionable penalty in the penalty box. The call came after the Aztecs' defender kicked through the ball and caught a portion of the Jaguars' Juan Soto's leg. Soto hit the ball in for a goal and a 3-2 lead.
Within a minute University Prep was on the attack again. Oscar Bonilla lost track of the ball inside the 18-yard box. Barstow's keeper Marcos Espinosia grabbed the ball from between Bonilla's legs and Bonilla tripped on the ball. The officials then called a penalty on Espinosia despite no infraction occurring. Bonilla hit the penalty kick to put the game away at 4-2.
"I don't really ever talk about bad calls, but there was just some that cost us today," Barstow coach Terri Peralta said. "We'd have loved to walk out off the field with a tie, but the officials prevented that. There was a hand ball on the first goal that he claims he didn't see, but we need to learn to play through those calls and to play to the whistle. We can't let it get to us no matter what the officials do."
Although Espinosia was on the wrong side of some bad calls and had a rough day in the box, he had an excellent day. He had 16 saves in the game despite facing a heavy onslaught especially early in the game.
"I just made sure Marcos knew that he played an outstanding game," Peralta said. "It wasn't his fault. There were just some bad calls which cost us three of the goals. It didn't have to do with him. He played great."
The Aztecs may have lost 4-2, but just tying the game at 2-2 in the final minutes required a big push.
Barstow trailed 1-0 at haltime and 2-0 10 minutes into the second half. The Jaguars controlled the possession early in the game and kept Barstow's defense on its toes. The Aztecs were out shot 12 to five in the first half.
"Today wasn't one of our best games," University Prep coach Sammy Lara said. "We had a good start, but Barstow played well. They pressured our back line the entire game. We were just able to get the goals we needed."
Despite trailing Barstow fought back and caught a break 18 minutes into the second half. Victor Carrol hit a shot from more than 30 yards out that got past the Jaguars' keeper Omar Castro. Peralta said the goal gave the Aztecs a second wind. Barstow struck again 33 minutes into the half. Barstow's Guillarmo Alvardo sent a through ball to David Saldana. Saldana took the ball just outside the 18-yard box and crossed it. The Aztecs' Raul Espinosia got a tip on the ball before Sultan Hamdan drilled it home to tie the game at 2-2.
The Aztecs effort to tie the game was all for not after the officials snatched the tie from their hands and gave University Prep the win.