Park View High boys’ soccer coach Arturo Jimenez could not be more proud of his team, which has bought into his possession style of play and displayed an unselfish brand of ball, game in and game out, all season.
The results have been more than most Patriot fans could have ever expected as Park View has put together one of the most memorable sports postseason runs in school history.
Two weeks ago, Park View captured the Dulles District tournament title by defeating Heritage in the championship match. Last week, at the Region II playoffs, the Patriots reached the finals where they bested Handley (Winchester), 1-0.
Next up for Park View was this week’s Virginia State AA tournament where the Patriots (17-2-3) were set to meet visiting Grafton High (Yorktown, Va.), a Region I team and member of the Bay Rivers District, on Tuesday.
Jimenez brought a style of possession soccer to the Patriots this season, and the squad has excelled.
"The kids have grasped what I was trying to do," said Jimenez, who coached the Park View High girls’ team in 2006 and 2007 before taking over the reigns of the Patriot boys’ program this season. "We just connected on the way I wanted to play."
The coach used discipline right from the start of the season to serve notice he meant business. Players were absolutely required to be on time for practice and team meetings, or else risk their spot on the team.
On the field, Park View began the season fast with wins over George Mason and James Madison High Schools. Since then, the Patriots have continued to grow and get better as a team.
<b>ONE OF THE STAPLES</b> of the team’s success this season has been its selfless play. The Patriots have had numerous players score goals this season and have passed the ball well. By the end of the regular season, the team was primed to make a strong postseason run, and the Patriots have done just that. Going into this week, Park View was a perfect 6-0 in the postseason (district and region tournaments combined).
At the recent district tournament, Park View reached the finals with wins over both Freedom, 4-0, and Loudoun County, 2-1. Then, in the title game against Heritage, the Patriots outlasted the Pride and won the overtime contest in penalty kicks.
It marked the first time Park View had beaten Heritage this season after suffering a 2-0 loss in one regular season meeting and tying the Pride, 1-1, in another.
"We actually did not play that good," said Jimenez, of his team’s championship game win. "But we hung in there and played good defense. We didn’t really play that well on offense and Heritage played very well."
Omar Gonzalez played an outstanding game in the net for the Patriots.
<b>AT REGIONALS</b>, Park View earned a hard-fought 2-1 quarterfinals round victory over Western Albermarle to advance to the semifinals.
"We had a good game plan for them," said Jimenez. "We played to our strengths – possessing the ball. That team was very good and played well."
The Patriots traveled to Winchester to take on Handley in the region semis. And Park View handed the Judges their first loss of the season in a 1-0 overtime affair.
The game’s only goal came early in the first overtime session when Pedro Mendoza found the net for the Patriots.
Park View had numerous scoring chances throughout regulation, but could capitalize only in the OT, which proved to be enough. Jimenez said Handley’s goalie played an exceptional game.
"Their keeper played the best game of his life," said the coach. "We hit the post six
Jimenez said the Patriots were going up against a formidable foe in Handley.
"Handley had a couple of really good guys," said the coach. "They were fast up top, had a good midfield and had a guy in the back who scored most of their goals [during the season]."
The win over Handley put Park View into the championship game where it met – and defeated – Brentsville District (Nokesville), by a 6-1 score.
The Patriots led 2-0 at halftime before Brentsville got a score to close within 2-1. But from that point on, Park View dominated play as it scored the game’s final four goals.
"We just took over," said Jimenez. "I think they realized at 2-1, we better start playing or we’re done."
Park View got two goals apiece in the win from Alex Valasco, Jose Herrea and Andreas Contreras.
The region title was the first for Park View since 1992.
"Going into states, anything can happen," said Jimenez, of his team’s next postseason step. "We’re playing real well right now."