Emperors steal title from Stallions

With less than a minute left in the game, the Dinuba Emperors seized on a long ball down the field to score the championship-clinching goal over the Madera South Stallions for a 1-0 victory.

“It was a spectacular season,” Madera South head coach Fernando Delgadillo said. “Words can’t describe the way I feel about this team. The unity, cohesion and the love for each other got us this far.”

The fifth-seeded Stallions and top-seeded Emperors battled back and forth throughout the first half. Dinuba had consecutive chances after defensive breakdowns in the back but Madera South goalkeeper Mark Davila stepped up and made multiple tough saves in intense pressure to keep the clean sheet intact.

The Stallions answered back with heavy attacking pressure down the left wing after Jesse Paz darted down the field looking for a trailing forward. The ball was cut back, but it was unable to reach a purple shirt after the Emperor defense cut out the pass.

The temperature rose as the game went on bringing both crowds into the game. The pressure of the championship game began to sink in towards the end of the half.

Paz had an open header at the back post but was unable to connect on the driven pass. The Emperor student section exhaled collectively.

In the 36th minute, Kevin Osuna showed immense pace and vision after he took on three Emperor defenders. He cut back looking for a teammate who was never there.

Osuna followed up a minute later with an ambitious effort from 20 yards out that rolled into the opposing goalkeeper’s gloves.

A testy first half ended scoreless.

The second half began in the direction of Dinuba. They had more definitive chances nearly scoring on a header and a clever pass into the box.

The Stallions fought hard throughout the second half trying to limit Dinuba’s time on the ball.

At the end of the second half ,Diego Hipilito lost his cool and received a yellow card for pulling down his opponent and another for protesting the whistle. He was ejected from the game, leaving the Stallions with 10 men entering extra time still scoreless.

The Stallions had the best chance of the first extra time period after Josue Ramirez flew down the left wing and into the penalty area. He picked up his head and fired a yard over the crossbar sending the Stallion fans into hysteria.

Davila made the save of the match in the closing minutes of the first extra time period after he slapped the ball off his lines to save the potential game-winning goal.

The Stallions came an inch away from taking the lead after the Stallion forward banged the ball of the post. The rebound fell into the path of the trailing Stallion but he fired over the crossbar from point blank range.

After a handball went uncalled for the Stallions, the Emperors are able to score in the last minute of the second half of overtime.

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