The city of Delano now has a Central Section champion in boys soccer, but it’s hard to imagine that will come as any consolation to Kennedy fans.
They watched their Thunderbirds fall by a score of 4-2 at home to local rival Delano in the Division V championship Thursday night, despite taking a two-goal lead in the first half. Juniors David Ambrocio and Enzo Cisneros netted once each for the Thunderbirds, Ambrocio on a tap-in at the far post and Cisneros after he intercepted a pass by Delano goalie Eric Camargo. But ultimately, Kennedy was unable to replicate its winning ways from earlier in the season, when it beat Delano twice in league play.
Instead, senior Orlando Reyes scored an astounding four goals for the Tigers, beginning just before halftime with an elegant free kick from just outside the box, and continuing with a line-drive rebound early in the second half and a game-winning strike in the 64th minute.
After Camargo and the Delano defense successfully fended off a string of late free kicks and corner kicks, Reyes added a fourth on a counter-attack when he lobbed a shot over out-of-position Kennedy goalie Cesar Navarro.
The Tigers may have trailed early, but they found their groove on offense beginning about 10 minutes in and didn’t let up. Initially, however, that didn’t translate into any goals. Jeremy Villegas found himself on the receiving end of a bouncing ball from a Camargo punt, but his attempted chip shot drifted over the Kennedy net.
Later in the half, sophomore Lionel Madrigal seized on a loose ball and executed a give-and-go with Reyes, then nearly converted when his shot on goal took an odd deflection. But Navarro pushed it away with one hand.
The Tigers thought they had a penalty kick on two separate occasions before the break — once when Villegas caught up to Fredy Villanueva’s through ball but went down as Navarro came up for a save, and again when Madrigal collided with Diego Marin in the box. In the end, they scored on a more challenging free kick regardless.
Kennedy lacked much of a spark on offense in the second half and started to show some frustration, accruing a pair of yellow cards early. The Thunderbirds' best offense was set pieces, but the Tigers' defense was well-equipped to handle them throughout.
The CIF regional soccer championships begin Tuesday.
Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.