The Mission High School soccer team walked off Boxer Field on Saturday – faces smiling, fists pumping – and at first, the celebration of their fourth straight city championship was businesslike.
Samuel Funez-Hernandez gently clapped as he walked toward the sideline, while Jose Saul Hernandez raised his arms to the misty sky. Coach Scott Kennedy smiled, but made it clear the Bears’ 2-0 win over Galileo was only a step in a longer process.
“This isn’t it for us,” he said, referring to the best-of-three series against the Oakland Area League winner that will determine the Transbay champion. “We’ll practice on Monday, and we still have work to do.”
But for just a few minutes, they played. After being announced as champions to the crowd of about 150, the Mission players ran wild through the soggy grass, plopping their trophy at midfield before sliding into unified exuberance.
Yes, they were the favorites. And yes, they had won the city title a few times before. But as the players said, winning championships never gets old.
“I feel so lucky,” said Jose Gallardo-Macias, who had the assist on each of Mission’s goal, and is the only player to have been on all four championship teams. “Most people only get to win one title. To get to win my fourth in my senior year – it just makes me feel lucky.”
Jose Mendoza-Martinez scored the Bears’ first goal in the 15th minute, receiving Gallardo-Macias’ corner kick in the box before driving it into the net. Later in the first half, Funez-Hernandez headed in a lob from Gallardo-Macias to give Mission its final score.
The Bears controlled the ball for most of the first half, limiting Galileo’s opportunities and capitalizing on their own. The Lions earned more chances in the game’s final period, but Mission’s defense emerged with a key play each time Galileo threatened to score.
At one point, Emilio Aguilar got behind the defense on a run-out, but his shot attempt sailed wide. Later in the half, Jorge Juarez earned a one-on-one opportunity, but Mission goalkeeper Jose Guevara-Fuentes rushed up from goal to stop Juarez’s shot.
“Our defense was incredible,” Kennedy said.
The Bears now turn their attention to the Transbay series, which begins Wednesday. But first, they’ll let this championship sink in.
“I won this for my mom,” Funez-Hernandez said. “It feels so good.”