This week we’ll take a third look at the Islander Boys Soccer Team in our Retro Natterings Series, which dates back to March 6, 2013. As you can tell from the headline, the program under the direction of Head Coach Brian Hiatt-Aleu was on a roll. The team was solid at virtually every position, with 6-7 forward Andrew Orozco giving the Islanders a big advantage offensively, particularly in close proximity to the goal. I hope you enjoy the look back at a really good prep soccer team which represented Coronado High School well.

Saturday afternoon (March 2, 2013) the No. 1 seeded Islander Boys Soccer Team defeated the No. 3 seed from Mater Dei 4-1 to capture their third consecutive CIF Division IV Championship. The success of the program under the direction of Head Coach Brian Hiatt-Aleu goes even deeper than their current three-peat. Coronado has now reached the CIF Semifinals for nine consecutive seasons and has won their division title five times since 2007.

Saturday’s Division IV Final was played at Del Norte High School and featured a temperature at the 4 p.m. starting time in the low 80’s and included hot air balloons hovering in the immediate vicinity of the North County school. On the field the conditions were anything but idyllic for the Islanders as the Mater Dei Crusaders opened their attempt at the title by being physical and playing the body of their opponents. 

Coronado had a rare mental miscue just four minutes into the game, as an errant pass 15 yards in front of the Islanders goal was picked off by Mater Dei and converted for a goal. It looked like the start of a long afternoon. Hiatt-Aleu said of the play, “We had one bad pass and their leading scorer buried it. That was the wake-up call. There were still 77 minutes left in the game. We made a mistake, but we knew we had lots of time.”

Shortly after the Crusader’s goal, Hiatt-Aleu substituted Andrew Orozco into the game and the six-foot, seven-inch senior forward immediately turned the game around. Wearing a knee brace to protect a damaged ligament in the back of his knee, Orozco was a force at midfield on balls in the air and in front of the opponent’s net on the offensive set pieces that Coronado successfully runs. Typically the opposition double teams Orozco all the way from mid-field to the goal.

Hiatt-Aleu explained his strategy going into the Finals. “We stuck with our game plan, which was to play a 4-4-2 for the first 20 minutes and then to go to a 4-3-3 when Andrew went in. He was up top with Drew Maracle and Fernando Martinez. We knew we would be better physically than Mater Dei and we knew that our speed would get to them, as they aren’t very fast in the back. We showed a lot of character and then we ran off three goals in the first half.”

Less than a minute after Orozco entered the game, Maracle connected on a crossing pass from Riley Peterson for Coronado’s first goal. About three minutes later Orozco finished a scoring opportunity on a ball bouncing in front of the Crusader’s net on what proved to be the game winner. With the first half of play continuing into stoppage time, Maracle scored his second goal, with Peterson earning his second assist.

Especially through the first half, Hiatt-Aleu did a masterful job substituting his players to keep them fresh on the warm and windy day. It also showed his confidence in his bench players, as Hiatt-Aleu was substituting two, three and on occasion four players into the game at once.

“We were still feeling the effects of the Quarterfinal game against the Preuss School,” Hiatt-Aleu explained. “That killed us a little bit in terms of fitness. We weren’t able to substitute much in the Semi-Final game against Bishop’s. Max McKee and Sean Aucoin gave us a good 10-15 minutes each in the middle when we subbed out Kyle Koshland and Alejandro Wiley. Alvaro Martinez got to play. I thought everyone contributed. We rotated the forwards a lot. I knew they wouldn’t substitute in the back and psychologically we got under their skin a little bit. Their goalie made some big saves and our goalie Justin Aden came up big for us when the score was 4-1. We got everyone in for the last five or six minutes. Everybody got to play.”

Coronado’s last goal to make the final score 4-1 was from a set piece with Koshland converting on an assist from Matt Ovrom, with 25:42 left in the game. Approximately seven minutes later, some of the physical play from the game fueled a brief skirmish featuring a player from each team. Both players were red carded and the final 18 minutes of the game were played with nine players and a goalie on the field from both squads.

As noted above, Aden had a few nice saves as the game wound down toward its completion. With 9:25 remaining, the senior goalie dove and tipped a Crusader shot over the crossbar. He later had a kick save to thwart another Mater Dei scoring attempt. Near the conclusion of the game, the Coronado student section started a chant requesting playing time for back up keeper Weston Breay. Hiatt-Aleu obliged and Breay was later awarded the CIF Sportsmanship Award for the game representing the Islanders.

Coronado’s 1-0 Semi-Final win over The Bishop’s School deserves mention. The Knights and the Islanders played each other twice at the beginning of the season in the Coronado Tournament, with the first game resulting in a 3-3 tie on Dec. 1, and Coronado winning handily four days later by a 4-0 margin.

Hiatt-Aleu said of the Semi-Final, “I was very surprised. I can usually measure our team pretty well and have a sense of how we are going to perform. I knew they would come out strong and physical, but I didn’t expect us to play as bad as we did. We should have been losing at the half. During halftime I told them, we can’t play any worse and we are still tied 0-0. I restated the concepts that had gotten us this far, along with the No. 1 seed and home field advantage. It really helped us in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half that we were quicker and faster. We knew we were better.”

The winning goal came from the booming right foot of senior defender Nathan Andersen, with 21 minutes left in the game. Andersen quickly lined up a free kick 53 yards from the Bishop’s goal and sent a screaming shot on a direct line at the Knights goalie. His shot would send Coronado to the Finals. Hiatt-Aleu said of the play, “The goalie didn’t hear the whistle or see the ball coming on the free kick, because he was setting up his defense. We didn’t want them to get their defense set.” The Bishop’s goalie got his hands on the ball but took a couple of steps backward into the goal. Once the ball crossed the goal line, Coronado had the 1-0 lead that would hold up for the rest of the game.

Coronado had the better of the play in the second half, in large part due to Orozco entering the game and creating matchup problems for the Knights. The game also featured a total of eight yellow cards called on Coronado, including one each on three members of the Islander coaching staff, including Hiatt-Aleu. It got to the point that the constant issuance of yellow cards became comical.

Aden earned the shutout in goal but had a valuable assist from sophomore defender Tanner Caldwell in the first half. Aden properly and aggressively left the net to try and halt a Bishop’s scoring opportunity, but the Knights were able to get a shot on goal, which Caldwell kicked away.

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