33rd annual Hemet High School Soccer Tournament took place the weekend of Nov. 29
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Much like the rest of the world, soccer has proven to be a highly popular sport in the San Jacinto Valley. And for the 33rd year running, Hemet High School has invited boys soccer teams from around Southern California to kick it with the Bulldogs for their annual soccer tournament.
Starting on Thursday, Nov. 29 and concluding this past Monday, Dec. 3, the tournament took place over four days not counting Sunday. 14 teams came from around the land to take part and challenge each other as well as the Bulldogs.
The tournament was hosted by Hemet High Soccer Coach Robert Maloney: “This tournament showed me a lot about my team. We were able to go 2-0-1 in pool play with missing advancing by one point to the eventual 2nd place team Shadow Hills.”
After four days of grueling gameplay and some rather bitter cold winds passing through Von Driska Field, it would come down to Indio’s Shadow Hills Knights and the Great Oak Wolfpack of Temecula. The few fans who braved the cold to watch their boys play this heat got to see a hotly contested match which even went into overtime! In the end, Great Oak would escape a knightly slaying to win the tournament 2-1.
While congratulations are in order for Great Oak, Maloney points out that this tournament showed just what his Bulldogs are made of: “A lot of schools under estimate us because of the age and stagnancy of the program the past few years and with our performance in this tournament I feel we put Hemet Soccer back on the map. In our tournament, the team showed the resiliency and heart they have overcoming injuries, exhaustion, and a 1-0 deficit at half to be able to come back and beat the always tough Heritage Patriots in the last game of (the) tournament.”
Naturally, Maloney wants his Bulldogs to win. But more importantly, he wants them to have a winning attitude and a winning experience. “We have not reached CIF playoffs in about 4 years and we have a good chance to end that drought this year and have the ability to send our seniors out on a high note.”
For now, the Bulldogs are 4-0-2 for the season. But they will have to use their juice properly if they want to keep up their record against the Citrus Valley Blackhawks of Redlands, who will land at Von Driska Field at 4:45 this afternoon.
Some of you may have counted them out, but you can count them back in again for now.