With his Blackhawks knotted in a 1-1 tie with Bloomington High in the first round of the CIF playoffs, Jason Ocampo studied the assembling line of Bruins’ defenders gathering along the edge of the goalkeeper’s box before him.
With five minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks’ leading scorer pounded a free kick line drive with fade off the fingertips of Bruins’ netminder Juan Botello to give host La Quinta a 2-1 playoff win Friday.
“It was either my shot or Aaron Garcia’s shot. I told him that I felt pretty sure and confident. I told him, ‘I got this,’ ” detailed Ocampo of his game-winner. “I saw them forming up and I saw the goalie. I knew he had a feeling that I was going to shoot left. So I thought I’d see if I could trick him. I pretended to shoot left and did an outside curve to the right — and I got ’em.”
The score — Ocampo’s 21st on the season — also got La Quinta past a steady, aggressive Bloomington squad that threatened to upend the Blackhawks’ hopes for a postseason run.
“They knew we had speed so they kept doing the offside trap and they got us most of the time,” Ocampo added. “But we talk about these games all the time. We know that no matter what the other team’s record is, we’ve gotta go in playing like it’s our last game.”
After a passive beginning for the hosts, La Quinta’s Jesus Avalos got the scoring under way at the 20-minute mark of the first half by racing past three Bloomington defenders to arc a goal over Botello and give the Blackhawks a 1-0 edge. But just two minutes later, the Bruins knotted the score when Alex Nolasco emerged from a scrum to put a ball past La Quinta’s Aaron Martinez.
Though the win for La Quinta (19-5-1) sends them to the second round of the playoffs for the second season in a row, the Blackhawks haven’t made the CIF quarterfinals since the 2006-07 campaign.
“We’re not a perfect team, and there are a lot of things that we have to work on daily,” said Ocampo. “We just need to get as good as we can.”
Winners of four of their last five games, La Quinta will travel to Loara High (Anaheim) for its second round matchup Wednesday.