Before Tuesday’s Division 6 semifinal game between Desert Mirage High School and Covina, Rams players watched a team video Covina posted on YouTube following its win over La Canada in the quarterfinals.
In the video, Covina ended its huddle by jointly shouting, “End the streak!”
Though Desert Mirage wasn’t exactly sure which streak they were referring to, the Rams took it as a personal challenge.
And against Covina on Tuesday, Desert Mirage showed just how motivated they were in a 4-0 win that extended their win streak to 22 games, and more importantly, secures a spot in the California Interscholastic Federation championship game against division rival Shadow Hills.
“At the beginning of the season one of my other captains, Fred Zaragoza, he said he wanted to go undefeated,” senior captain Armando Rivera said. “You think like, ‘I really want to do it, but is it going to happen?’ You don’t really know.”
Desert Mirage (22-0) is now one win away from making Zaragoza look prophetic. The Rams have the chance to be perhaps the first team in Coachella Valley history to finish a soccer season unbeaten.
Nobody seems to know for sure if the Rams will be the first. Most coaches haven’t been coaching in the area for more than 20 years or so. The most veteran coaches, however, say they’ve never seen or heard of it being done in this region.
One thing Desert Mirage does know is that it currently has the sixth-longest win streak in Southern Section history. Adding a CIF title is the only other way this season could be any more storybook-esque for the Rams.
“The boys look at that,” Rams head coach Peter Zamora said. “The continually ask questions regarding that. But I don’t focus on anything other than working hard and everything else falls into place.”
Sophomore forward Alex Pimentel scored the first two goals of Tuesday’s game within the first 20 minutes with Desert Mirage frustrating the Covina defense early. Rams teammate Javier Ruiz scored on a header off of a corner kick and Desert Mirage took a comfortable 3-0 lead into halftime.
Covina never really threatened in the second half. The Colts managed to get a few shots off on the Desert Mirage goal late, but the game was no longer in doubt. Zaragoza put in a fourth goal for good measure in the waning moments and pandemonium ensued among the crowd of more than 700.
“I’m just really blessed to be here,” Zamora said. “I’m just lucky to have so many great players here together.”
Zamora said after the game that he asked Covina coach Jonathan Ortiz if the “Break the streak” reference was in regards to the Rams. Ortiz confirmed that it indeed was.
“He said, ‘No, it was about you guys; we wanted to break your streak,’ ” Zamora said. “Our boys took it personally. You don’t want to fire these guys up.”
Players had also heard that another De Anza League team had secured a spot in the title game earlier in the day. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to play a local team they had already beaten twice, the Rams suddenly had another form of motivation.
And later this week, the incentive will be the school’s third CIF title, and the chance to go down in history with an unbeaten season.
“I’m just excited,” senior defender Julio Rivera said. “I just can’t believe we’re in the finals. It’s incredible.”