It took until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before Jack Luckhurst could finally fall asleep, but he soon found sunshine on a rainy day.
“There were a lot of dreams that came true today,” Bishop Diego High’s senior star said after the Cardinals’ 4-2 victory over Vasquez High in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 boys soccer playoffs at Goleta’s rain-slickened Girsh Park.
Just a few hours after signing a national letter of intent to kick for the Arizona State football team, Luckhurst and his two younger brothers, Adam (two assists) and Michael (two goals), led Bishop into the boys soccer semifinals for the first time in school history.
“It was a crazy, full day,” said Jack, who converted a penalty kick at the start the second half for his 29th goal of the season. “I couldn’t have dreamt it any better.
“It was a great performance by the team, and on to the next one.”
The next one for Bishop (14-3) will be at its campus field on Saturday at 1 p.m. against San Dimas, which edged de Toledo High 1-0 in its quarterfinal.
The three Luckhurst boys are coached by their father, former NFL placekicker Mick Luckhurst, with Christy Gates-Bowes and Billy Gallagher providing the technical assistance.
“We play with intensity,” Mick Luckhurst said. “We also, bit by bit, are playing with more and more skill. I can’t say enough about the two coaches, Billy and Christy, and what they’ve brought to the table.
“It’s also the desire of these guys to learn, and their wanting to win.”
They jumped on Vasquez (15-5-2) in just the fourth minute, with a long throw-in by sophomore Luke Williams finding Michael Luckhurst, a freshman forward, just inside the top of the 18-yard box.
“I practice those all the time – one-touch finishes,” he said.
Vasquez tied the score just seven minutes later on Connor Jenkins’ penalty kick.
Junior Daniel Giannini put Bishop back ahead in the 19th minute, however, when he headed in a corner kick that junior Adam Luckhurst curled to the back post.
“You see how dangerous we are on every corner kick,” Mick Luckhurst said. “You’ve got Michael in there, and Jack, and Daniel – those are three big boys who are strong.
“And then Adam puts them there, every time. That’s hard to do.”
Jack Luckhurst’s penalty kick came after his brother Adam was fouled on a run to the near post. Jack ripped the shot into the top right shelf, but the referee ordered a re-kick after his teammates were called for rushing too soon into the kicking area.
“Those are the hardest,” Jack Luckhurst said of the re-kick. “The second one, I just waited to see where he was going to dive and slid it the other way.”
His PK to the left side of the goal gave Bishop a two-goal cushion.
Cardinal goalkeeper Gabe Rodriguez fluffed it up seven minutes later by making a point-blank save of a rocket from Nilton Melara – a low shot which he popped over the goal.
“It probably changed how the game was played,” Mick Luckhurst said of Rodriguez’s block. “They had a point there when they scored, they started laying it on us … and he had a couple of saves there.”
The Mustangs’ Jackson Clyde Kestler, a junior who has verbally committed to Cal Poly, reduced Bishop’s lead to 3-2 with his shot from just inside the top of the 18-yard box. It was his 36th goal of the season.
He got few other looks, however, thanks to the marking of Giannini and Williams, and the rest of what Mick Luckhurst likes to call “our back seven.”
“We also switched Brendan (Carlyle) over there to give them a break, because No. 11 (Kestler) is a handful,” he said. “No. 11 is by far the best player we’ve come across this year.”
Luckhurst’s two younger sons combined one last time on a corner kick with just six minutes left before stoppage time, with Michael heading in his 12th goal of the year on Adam’s 41st assist.
“Jack pulled the defense away – pulled a couple of guys and the keeper,” Michael said. “They all went with him, and it went past them and it was an open goal.
“It’s a dream come true, it’s amazing. It’s the funnest time of my life.”
Big brother felt the same.
“We played club our whole lives and were never all on the same team, so this is another dream come true,” Jack said. “And having my dad here as the coach … There were a lot of dreams today.”