As the final seconds wound down in Butler’s 1-0 victory over Southern in the boys’ 6th Region soccer final, the Bears players and fans began to celebrate as an eight-year-old dream turned into reality.
At the horn, the players came together along the sideline at DeSales and then rushed up to coach Mario Carrillo, who had let out a “Woo!” in a mix of relief and celebration. About that time, his kids hosted him on top of their shoulders. And moments later, senior goalkeeper Javier Huitron ran toward him with the regional trophy – the first for Butler soccer since 2001 — in hand and bowed as he offered it to Carrillo.
“This has been a long time in coming,” said Carrillo, who started at Butler in 2009. “It’s been a lot of hard work by a lot of hard working people over those eight years. This didn’t just happen overnight. This has been a long process to get to this point.”
The only goal came 11:11 into the contest by Aung Win, who got some urging from his teammates when he had the ball deep on Southern’s side while the Trojans keeper left the goal exposed.
“I saw the goal was wide open, so I just shot it,” said the sophomore, about his 12th goal of the season.
From there, Butler (19-4-1), the No. 25 team in the state coaches’ association poll, held the Trojans without a shot on goal during the first half. Southern would get a few chances in the second half, but each time Huitron and the Bears back line responded to preserve the shutout. The best chance came midway through, but Huitron deflected the shot attempt out of bounds for a Trojan corner kick. On the corner, Southern was eventually ruled offside.
“We were playing too forceful trying to shove the ball up, and that was not going to work,” Huitron said about what created the Trojans second half chances.
While Butler came in with aspirations of winning that elusive regional, Southern came in as regional upstarts. While some disorganization on defense led to Win’s goal, Southern coach Javier Rodriguez-Mola said his Trojans represented themselves well on Saturday night.
“When we started, we never thought we could get to the final of the region,” he said. “They played very good, and they played with the best team in the region.”
And both teams could be around for a while. Southern (13-3-4) returns 15 players from this team next season, while Butler’s starting lineup included seven freshman and sophomores
The reward for Butler reaching its dream is a semi-state matchup with Seventh Region champ Collegiate on Tuesday night. The No. 2 Titans are the highest ranked team remaining in the state tournament, and Carrillo said they have everything a team needs to win a state crown.
The two teams played on Sept. 8, with host Collegiate winning 7-1.
“That is easily the best high school soccer team I have ever coached against in the last eight years I’ve been here,” Carrillo said. “We’re going to go work on Monday and try to come up with something, but we know what we’re up against… It’s going to take a Herculean effort to make a game out of that.”
For Huitron, the senior said he and his teammates will try to approach it as just another game, especially since they’re fresh off accomplishing a goal they’ve worked toward since his freshman year.
“Anything after this really doesn’t matter,” Huitron said. “It’s just Region. That’s what we were worried about. It’s been too long since we won it.”