King City Mustangs soccer champions
King City High School boys’ soccer team players (from left) Jesus Montoya, Esteban Acosta, Cruz Rios, Angel Romero, Damian Aguirre and Deon Rodriguez celebrate their second state championship title win Saturday night. (Michael Ramirez)

KING CITY — Winning their last game of the season had a little more meaning for the King City High boys’ soccer team this season.

The Mustangs won the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regional Championships by a 2-0 score against the Archie Williams Peregrine Falcons of San Anselmo on Saturday night at Greenfield High School.

King City (#2 seed) began the regional tournament last Tuesday at home with a 5-2 win against #7 seed Matilda Torres High from Madera at War Memorial Stadium. In the Torres game, Victor Medina led King City with two goals, and Damian Aguirre, Deon Rodriguez and Israel Saldana added solo goals.

Two nights later, the Mustangs hosted #3 seed Justin Garza High from Fresno and hung on for a 4-2 victory. King City led 3-1 late in the second half, but Justin Garza fought back with a late goal to make the game interesting.

King City Mustangs soccer
King City’s Angel Romero makes a tackle on a ball in the first half of the CIF Northern Regional Championships game against Archie Williams on Saturday. (Michael Ramirez)

“I began putting in substitute players with about 20 minutes to play and that changed the way we like to play,” said Mustangs head coach Jaime Cortes. “It was totally my decision to let players in the game that hadn’t played much during the last few games. We played good enough on defense from keeping Justin Garza from scoring anymore goals.”

As top seed University High School lost the same night of the Justin Garza and King City game to the #5 seed Falcons, the championship game was scheduled to be played at King City’s stadium Saturday. The Mustang field, however, was determined by CIF to not be in good enough shape to host the finals, so King City was forced to move the championship contest to Greenfield.

“We found out that the game would be moved on Friday morning,” Cortes said. “A couple of schools offered their fields, but we felt Greenfield was a better location as it meant that our parents and fans did not have to drive so far to get to the game.”

On Saturday, the forecasted rain came in just before the start of the championship game that was scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m.

The visiting Falcons used their height to win many headers and denied the Mustangs from advancing the ball until about the 10-minute mark, when Estevan Acosta took a corner kick and hit a clutch goal that gave the team a 1-0 lead. The goal gave the Mustangs a little momentum, and the team scored again at the 20-minute mark as Acosta curved in a shot from a good angle for a 2-0 King City lead.

King City Mustangs fans
A large contingent of fans attended the King City High boys’ soccer team’s game Saturday against Archie Williams High at the Greenfield High stadium. (Michael Ramirez)

The Mustang defense kept the Falcons from scoring in the first half and took the two-goal lead into halftime.

With the rain continuing to slow the game down to start the second half, the Mustangs had to dig deep to keep the opponents from mounting a threat. King City secured many balls that were heading up field to start the second half, but things changed in the last 15 minutes when the Mustangs were truly tested by the desperate Falcons.

“Winning the 50/50 balls was a challenge for us,” Cortes said. “Our opponents were tall and we had to fight them off for possession of the ball. We knew that if we allowed a goal it would swing the momentum, give them confidence, and give them the opportunity to come back and beat us.”

With less than 10 minutes to play, the Falcons had numerous chances to cut the lead, but Mustang goalie Jesus Montoya smothered any ball that came at him, while outside shots by the Falcons failed to find their mark.

King City Mustangs goalie
Mustang goalie Jesus Montoya leaps in the air to make a stop on a Falcons’ shot attempt Saturday at Greenfield High. (Michael Ramirez)

Montoya kept his cool at goalie, stopping shots and sending the ball up field and to the safety of the Falcons’ part of the field. He credits his teammates for helping him in the goal area.

“I had a good amount of shots coming at me, but I just kept doing my job,” Montoya said. “My boy Angel Romero and also my other boy Kevin Perez, who was celebrating his birthday, really helped me out. Without those two guys at center back, I would not have been able to just focus on anyone taking a shot close to the net. I didn’t feel any pressure, as I just wanted to enjoy the moment and run out the clock to get us our second title.”

The Mustangs did manage to run out the clock on the Falcons, although they had a few long runs toward the Archie Williams goal area that could have produced a few more goals. When the time ran out, a joyous celebration began with players and coaches running on the field for group hugs.

“If there was an MVP chosen for their play, it would have been Jesus Montoya for his work at goalie,” said Coach Cortes. “He was amazing out there with his saves and leadership. This championship means a lot, as we had to work hard to get here. Last year we had lost many players that had played on the first Northern California championship, but this year we returned six of those players and the team got better every time we played. I received a lot of support from my wife Leslie, and without her I wouldn’t be able to do this.”

King City Mustangs soccer coach
King City Mustangs head soccer coach Jaime Cortes receives the CIF Northern Regional Championships plaque after his team defeated the Archie Williams Peregrine Falcons on Saturday by a 2-0 score. (Michael Ramirez)

King City finished with a 14-6-5 overall record and did not lose a game after a 1-0 loss to Pajaro Valley on Jan. 18.

The Mustangs finished the second half of the Mission Division of the Pacific Coast Athletic League with three wins and three ties. They won three games to win the Central Coast Section Division IV Championship and won three games to win the CIF Northern Regional Championships.

Assisting Cortes with coaching this season were: Orlando Zendejas, Miguel Zendejas, Jacob Stephens, Mitch Valdez, Juan Acosta and Jose Valadez.

Players on the championship team were: Angel Moreno, Alex Santiago, Deon Rodriguez, Randy Jacobo, Israel Saldana, Esteban Acosta, Abiel Gomez, Gerardo Quintana, Victor Medina, Benjamin Bolanos, Jonathan De La Paz, Andres Bedolla, Henry Hernandez, Damian Aguirre, Alexis Alcantar, Ernesto Aguirre, Gabriel Clemente, Jesus Quintana, Kevin Perez, Luis Ramirez, Cruz Rios, Jesus Montoya, Richard Mendez, Elder Cruz and Angel Romero.

King City Mustangs soccer champions
King City Mustang players and coaches are joined in front of the net after Saturday’s game by KCHS Principal Mike Gray and Athletic Director Tige Munoz. (Michael Ramirez)
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