Campbell gets share of AAC soccer title
By BOB ETTINGER
Campbell center midfielder Victor Orozco knew what was coming. He and teammate Henry Perdomo Mejia had discussed it at times. That discussion put Orozco and Perdomo Mejia on the same page and allowed for the duo to net the winner in the waning moments of a 2-1 victory over Crestview to claim a share of the All-American Conference Blue Tier championship on Wednesday night John Knapick Field.
“This is my second year back as coach and it means a lot to the program,” Campbell coach Phil Atsas said. “We have something to offer the community of Campbell, we have something to offer the school and we have something to offer the kids. We did this for the good people of Campbell. The kids came together. They pushed the panic button in the beginning. Last year, we had the best record the team has had since the mid-1990s. We beat that this year and hopefully we’ll continue to build on that and the values, morals and respect we’re building.”
The Red Devils (13-3, 11-1) earned redemption after falling just short of a championship in 2017.
“It was a big sigh of relief [to take the lead late],” Atsas said. “I was able to take a breath of fresh air. I was excited, but it was more a sigh of relief. Last year, we were second to Champion and we had two chances to win the conference and we didn’t come through. We aren’t used to playing in big games like this. The boys used to get beat up pretty bad. We had the opportunity again this year and I would’ve hated to see them miss this opportunity two years in a row.”
Taking a free kick from about 22 yards out for the Red Devils, Perdomo Mejia sent a ball from just outside the numbers on the left side of the field through a wall of players to the far front post of the goal.
“I saw him,” Perdomo Mejia said. “That’s why I passed it to him. I saw it go in. I ran over and celebrated. I was thinking anything [as it went in]. I was feeling happy we won the game.”
Just as it appeared no one would get there in time for Campbell, Orozco slid in at full speed and redirected the ball into the net for the 2-1 lead with 3:29 remaining in the second half.
“We always talk about how we’re going to score a goal [like that], especially at a time like that,” Orozco said. “Our coach taught us how to do that and we’ve done it before. It’s because we have a great coach we know how to do that. I never had any doubt I would put it in. I knew I was going to make that score.”
With the loss, Crestview missed out on the outright league title, but earned a share with the Red Devils.
“It was [heartbreaking],” Jonathan Kinkead said. “Campbell has a very strong team this year. It is what it is. They beat us by one goal tonight and we beat them, 1-0, the first time we played. You want the two best teams playing at the end and we’re fortunate this game was at the end of the season for all the marbles. It was fun.”
The Rebels took a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute of the first half.
“I could see players had their heads down,” Atsas said. “One player was yelling at another. Any time somebody scores, we tell them to huddle up. Even if we score, we huddle up. It allows them to regroup. [The players] say that helps. If we don’t huddle, they all go their individual ways and they’re not playing together.”
Colt Crane tapped the ball around a defender, took a step to the outside and came back toward the middle before planting the ball in the back of the net.
“[Holding on to win, 1-0], is always the hope,” Kinkead said. “When you’re playing a good team like this, you can’t count on just one goal. We weren’t planning on playing it at 1-0 for the win.”
Perdomo Mejia tied the score at 1 for Campbell with 8:20 to go in the first half.