SELMA – Despite absorbing a lopsided number of shots compared to the amount it took, Selma High's boys soccer team made it to halftime of the Central Section Division IV championship match against Arvin tied 0-0.
"I was elated that we held them scoreless in the first half," Selma coach Matt Jones said after watching Arvin blast a succession of point-blank shots either wide of the goal posts, over the bar or into keeper Jonathan Herrera's hands.
"At halftime, it was time to take a deep breath and relax."
In the second half, Selma's trio of sensational sophomores calmed their jitters and took over, with Anthony Torres and Moises Martinez each scoring a goal and Andrew Ramirez helping control the midfield as second-seeded Selma pulled away for a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Arvin.
It's Selma's first section title in boys soccer since winning back-to-back crowns in 2000 and 2001, the second of which also came against Arvin.
Following 54 minutes of scoreless soccer on a rain-soaked field, Torres controlled the ball about 15 yards outside the right post, made a move to his right to shake a defender then blasted a left-footed laser into the high right corner of the net.
"My coaches have been telling me to practice my left shot," Torres said. "So I tried it and good results came out. [The defender] kind of slipped, and that gave me an advantage."
Torres is normally a right-footed kicker.
"His shot has been consistent all year," Jones said. "He knows exactly what he's doing."
Martinez gave Selma (19-6-2) a 2-0 lead roughly 12 minutes later when he scored on a direct kick from the top of the box. The kick was awarded after the referee ruled Arvin keeper Carlos Hernandez picked up the ball outside the penalty box.
With Arvin (13-9-2) players lined up in a wall in front of the goal, Torres first faked a left-footed shot before Martinez followed with a line drive high into the corner.
"I saw the corner open," Martinez said. "I thought: 'I'm going to shoot it and make it.' This is a dream come true. We didn't practice and work this hard not to win it."
Selma's defense withstood a barrage of shots over the final 15 minutes, allowing only Jose Valdez's goal with approximately four minutes to play for Arvin, which upset top-seeded Mira Monte-Bakersfield en route to reaching the final.
"Our defense has been solid all year," said Herrera, who made eight saves. "It seemed like everything they sent at us, we were able to clear. We just had to stay calm."