Sports

Highlanders earn first league win on overtime goal by Salinas

by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The La Habra boys’ soccer team avoided going winless in the first round of Freeway League games, with a 2-1 overtime win over Buena Park, Wednesday afternoon at home.

La Habra had opportunities to put it away without the overtime period. Towards the end of regulation, the Highlanders put themselves in good positions to score but could not convert on a few good opportunities, including a shot off of the goal post in the 78th minute.

When overtime came around, the Highlanders came out with a huge amount of energy and scored just over a minute into the period. Kolby McInally took a free kick near midfield and put a pass into the box. The ball was kicked around before it came to Joe Salinas, who put it in for the eventual game-winning goal.

“I was just trying to get the ball into the box,” said the Senior captain McInally, “We knew that they have had some trouble with set pieces and that we had a good chance to take advantage of those. I just put the ball in the box and it bounced right to Joe.”

The Highlanders (7-7-3, 1-3-1) needed the win after starting league play 0-3-1. The win leaves the team with a chance to claw back into playoff contention. Things should be easier with guys coming back from injury, most notably, senior captain Robert Coronado and midfielder Ray Flores.

Coronado has missed the entire season after suffering a leg fracture in the team’s season opener.

“It is looking like Ray will be in there for us against Fullerton,” McInally said. “That will be huge for us. He is really strong in the middle and a great player on both sides of the ball.”

“Our other captain, Robert Coronado has a doctor appointment a week from today,” added head coach Earvin Aleman. “If all goes well he will be available by the end of next week. We have gotten off to a bad start but this win will give us some confidence and it will only be easier as guys start to come back from injury.”

Along with the pass that led to the game-winning goal for La Habra, McInally also had the first goal for the Highlanders early in the first half.

The Highlanders had a corner kick, but the Coyotes won the ball originally. The ball was then cleared out and Israel Alvarez got a hold of it. He crossed the ball back in right to McInally and picked up the assist on the goal.

The Coyotes (5-8-2, 1-3-1) and Highlanders are now tied at the bottom of the Freeway League standings. La Habra will play a big game against Fullerton on Friday and will have a chance to make a statement.

The Indians will be without talented forward Yazi Hernandez, who suffered a knee injury two weeks ago in a game against Sonora.

“It was great for our guys to pick up a win today,” Aleman said. “Just not having to see a zero in the win column is huge for our guys. If guys can get healthy and we can put the ball in the net, the team will be okay.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.