Turning 18 is a special moment for any young person.
The coming of age usually signifies the change for a person from being a teenager to transitioning into full adulthood.
Friday night, Aldo Becerril began his transition into adulthood and was able to pick up an extra excuse to celebrate along the way.
The senior scored a beautiful insurance goal in the 45th minute for the Dos Pueblos High boys soccer team and led his Chargers to a 3-0 win over Huntington Beach at Scott O’Leary Stadium in the second round of the CIF-SS Div. 2 playoffs.
Becerril was named the man of the match by head coach Matt York, not only for his goal but his ability to create throughout the entire contest.
“It was very special,” Becerril said about being able to score on his birthday, which falls on Valentine’s Day.
“I mean, I have always worked for the team. I’ve been in the program for four years and so that is the least I can do for these players, my teammates.”
With the win, DP now moves into the quarterfinals.
Just a few days ago, the Chargers looked like they were a one-and-done squad. Dos Pueblos fell behind 2-0 against Valencia on Wednesday early in the first half.
Somehow, the Chargers found a way to level the match at 2-2 by halftime and then they managed to put together an even better goal in overtime to walk away with a 4-3 win.
“It’s the best feeling and you work with a team like this, like a family. We are brothers and we support each other and that’s we were able to come back and able to come out the way we did (Friday),” Becerril said.
Friday night, under the lights and in front of a dedicated home crowd, Dos Pueblos did not get off to a slow start like it did in the first round.
In fact, the Chargers were the more aggressive team from the jump, continually creating opportunities and taking shots.
“I think we just realized that we had to be more mentally prepared,” York said.
“The travel maybe got us a little out of our game and I’m really glad the kids are focused in. They got here earlier than I even asked them and they were kind of all together with each other and I could tell that they were dialed in and it was nice.”
A big driving force in that for DP, as usual, was defender Hayden Carlson. The senior was consistently beating Huntington Beach players to 50/50 balls and making plays.
In the 29th minute, Carlson was trying to catch up to a pass that looked like it was headed out of bounds near the Oilers’ end line for a goal kick. Somehow, the senior caught up to the ball, surprising Huntington Beach’s Jered Rhone. Out of position, Rhone was forced to foul Carlson, picking up a yellow card in the process.
“I mean I go out every game, I work as hard as I can and give it my all just so I’m satisfied with myself after every game,” Carlson said.
A few moments later, Carlson made an even bigger play. Off a deep free kick from senior CJ Rodriguez, Carlson, inside the 18, out jumped the Oilers defense and headed the ball toward the middle of the box.
There, senior midfielder Leo Rubio stepped in and slotted the ball past Huntington Beach’s keeper to put DP in front 1-0.
“Normally we try to get it to one of the top players on free kicks, so CJ had a really nice ball, and then I got up. I saw Leo on the run and I headed it right to him and luckily he put it in,” Carlson said.
Before the end of the first half, DP saw an opportunity to take a two-goal lead as Scott Buie was fouled from behind on a shot attempt inside the 18-yard box.
Rodriguez took the ensuing penalty kick in the 37th minute, but HB’s keeper read his direction and came up with the big save, ending the half with the Chargers on top, 1-0.
While missed opportunities are the talking point in any game, DP did not have to think about that missed chance for too long.
Five minutes into the second half, Becerril was played up by teammate Bubba Gutierrez. Gutierrez then continued his run and asked for the ball back, attracting two Oilers’ defenders with him.
Becerril read that and decided to instead cut inside of the defenders and, at the top of the 18, rip a shot from his right foot. The shot was hit perfectly to the far corner, just inches over the hand of Huntington Beach’s keeper, putting DP in front 2-0.
“Honestly, that goal, I was not really thinking about it like that. I just controlled the ball and was able to finish it for my team,” Becerril said.
DP was in control for the majority of the contest until the final 10 minutes when Huntington Beach went on a full-out attack.
The Oilers scored in the 71st minute but it was called back by an offsides penalty. Three minutes later, a Huntington Beach player took a shot from 20 yards out and got it over the head of DP’s keeper, but hitting the top of the post. One minute later, the Oilers again had one more look as off a rebound a player had a good look at the net with DP’s Jorge Dominguez-Soto out of position, but the player hit the ball out of bounds.
The Chargers then sealed the win as Rubio scored his second goal in the 79th minute to give his team the 3-0 win.
“I didn’t imagine doing that,” Rubio said after being asked if he ever thought he would score two goals in this CIF match.
“But it was a good feeling to score those two goals and take us to victory.”
Last season, DP also made it to the quarterfinals but got no further. This year, the Chargers will host St. John Bosco on Tuesday, and Rubio believes this team can go further.
“It’s always good to make it to the quarterfinals again but we don’t want to stop there. I want to keep going and going,” Rubio said.
“We have heart and we are wanting it like more than ever before. We just have to play with everything we got.”