October 31, 2013 - 9:23 pm
Western goalkeeper Manuel Guillermo delivered his eleventh shutout of the season at the best possible time.
The senior made four saves, including a first-half penalty kick, to help the Warriors to a 0-0 tie with host Clark on Thursday.
The tie gave Western the Sunset League’s No. 1 seed for the Division I-A playoffs, thanks to the strong work Guillermo has done this season. The Warriors and Chargers both finished 11-0-3 in the Sunset, and the tiebreaker came down to goals allowed in league play.
Western allowed three; the Chargers gave up six.
“Amazing job,” Western coach Robert Feller said. “He’s done a great job all year.”
Guillermo’s save of Jose Munoz’s penalty kick was the highlight Thursday.
“I actually got into his head,” Guillermo said. “I told him he was going right. He did go to his right, so that was good for me.
“When I stopped it, (it was) the best feeling of my life.”
The penalty kick came 10 minutes before halftime. Before the kick, Guillermo told himself: “I got to block this. I got to do it for my team.”
He came through. Munoz, Clark’s second-leading scorer, got the rebound, but kicked it over the crossbar. It was the closest either team came to scoring.
Clark’s Jose Sahagun and Renaldo Sandoval each played a half in goal to share the shutout.
Sahagun started at keeper for the Chargers, but left after challenging a forward and coming down awkwardly. He finished with one save. Sandoval took over in the second half and recorded two saves.
“We had a lot of opportunities in the first half,” Clark coach Juan Chavez said. “We couldn’t finish. I think it was the pressure because of the rivalry. We always want to beat them.”
Western controlled the possession in the second half, but was unable to put the ball in the net. The Warriors had an early chance on a header which was denied by Sandoval.
Western’s other big threat came on a corner kick in the 65th minute. The ball was placed perfectly, but was kicked out of harm’s way by a Clark defender.
“We’ve started slow the first half a lot this year,” Feller said. “I’d hate to say it’s a trademark of our team, but we seem to start slow and finish strong.”
Thursday’s match was physical. The game ended with nine yellow cards — six on Western and three on Clark.
“It always is that (way),” Feller said. “I was surprised there were no red cards. Every game that we play is always physical. There’s always a lot of yellows, a couple reds.”
Chavez said the game was good for both teams as they prepare for the Southern Region tournament.
“We expect this type of game,” Chavez said. “This is one of the best games that we can have to prepare for the playoffs.”