Oliver Dolberg knows and embraces the expectations placed on himself and the rest of the defenders on the Buchanan High boys soccer team.
“We expect to go out and keep a shutout every game,” Dolberg said. “Coach (John Spurgeon) expects that, too. Nothing but the best. Defense wins championships. And we continue to get shutouts.”
The top-seeded Bears posted their 16th shutout of the season in a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Bullard on Tuesday that clinched the program’s fifth trip to the Central Section Division I finals in the past six seasons.
Buchanan (19-1-7) will host No. 7 Centennial at 1 p.m. Saturday seeking their fifth D-I championship in the past six years and the sixth section title in program history. The Golden Hawks beat No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield 2-1 in OT in the other semifinal.
Dolberg and fellow defenders Colson Verhalen, Josaiah Trejo and goalkeeper Ryan Bray – all senior third-year starters, along with midfielders JT Arruda and Tommy Reynolds – have formed the heart of a defense that has led the way to back-to-back championships for the Bears, who are ranked No. 13 nationally by topdrawersoccer.com.
Dolberg, Verhalen, Trejo and sophomore defender Austin Roberts didn’t yield much to the County/Metro Athletic Conference co-champion Knights, and the few shots they did allow, Bray was there to swallow up. Bray made saves on six of 11 shots by Bullard (14-5-5) in the second half.
“A lot of it has to do with experience – they have been there before,” Spurgeon said. “For everything they have accomplished, I really wanted to get back (to the championship) for them and give them a chance to three-peat.”
Myles Dornhofer got Buchanan rolling in the 12th minute when he took a header from Trejo, powered his way through two defenders and blasted a low liner past Knights goalkeeper Cameron Drzazga.
“There was a big open gap,” Dornhofer said. “He came out up in the air, so I hit it on the ground.”
The Bears got an insurance goal in the 64th minute when Jacob Rudolph drew a foul just outside the box along the left post, setting up a free kick for Arruda. With a wall to his left and the goalkpeer playing in the middle of the cage, Arruda drilled a high bender toward the far post that curved in just out of Drzazga’s reach.
“I’ve been working on that all year,” Arruda said. “So I tried to hit it to that spot.”
Arruda is seeking his third section title ring after providing an assist in Buchanan’s 1-0 victory over Liberty in the final last season and scoring the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win against Bullard for the title in 2014.
“This has basically been our goal from the start,” Arruda said. “We’ve just got to win it now.”