With a chance to capture the Transbay boys’ soccer title and cap off a dream season, Mission’s meeting with Fremont of Oakland instead quickly dissipated into a nightmare.
After handling the Tigers 3-0 on Monday to in the opener of the best-of-three series, the Bears came out flat against the Oakland Athletic Leaguechamps, losing their best player, then the game 1-0.
Perhaps as a foreboding omen of things to come, Mission showed up to the Fremont field clad in soccer cleats, unaware that they would be playing on an artificial turf.
Things proceeded to get worse from there as the Bears played a listless first half, then were forced to play a man down after star sweeper Jairo Majano was tagged with a red card just 15 minutes into the second half.
Majano was whistled for elbowing a Fremont player as they both went up for a jump ball in Mission territory. Majano pleaded that the contact was inadvertent, but his argument fell on deaf ears, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game and automatic one-game suspension, which means he will miss the Friday’s Transbay final at Boxer Stadium.
Bears coach Scott Kennedy was so upset with the call and his team’s performance he refused to comment.
Fremont immediately seized upon the momentum created from Majano’s red card, getting a goal from striker Eder Aragom just three minutes later to grab the lead.
Aragom’s goal, which came off a pretty setup from Salvatore Suguara, was already the Tigers’ sixth shot of the half, compared to just one for Mission.
Despite playing a man down, the Bears did respond gallantly, even getting a golden opportunity to tie the score in the 70th minute when forward Roberto Escobar was tackled just outside the box in Fremont territory, resulting in a free kick.
Escobar launched the ensuing direct kick over a wall of Fremont defenders, but Tigers goalie Luis Gallego reacted just in time, knocking the shot over the goal to quell the Mission threat.
Fremont controlled the pace from there, content to let the clock run out against the undermanned Bears.
With the victory, the Tigers forced a winner-take-all matchup for Friday, which will determine the Trans Bay Championship.
"That was Fremont soccer," said Tigers coach George Hopkins, whose squad out shot Mission 10-6 in the game. "Even though we lost the first game 3-0, we knew we could play with them because all those goals came in the last ten minutes. We shook off our nerves in the first half and settled down and played like we are capable."
Fremont 1, Mission 0