Granite Hills plays West Hills at Qualcomm Stadium

0
27
WEBSports.jpg

The Chargers may have moved out, but Qualcomm Stadium is still a central part of the San Diego community, and on Feb. 10, the lights came on for an Easy County high school soccer game. 

Granite Hills (4-1-2) and West Hills (2-4), both nearing the end of their seasons and both with huge contingents of fans clamoring into the bleachers, went head to head under the bright lights on the big field. 

The Chargers may have moved out, but Qualcomm Stadium is still a central part of the San Diego community, and on Feb. 10, the lights came on for an Easy County high school soccer game. 

Granite Hills (4-1-2) and West Hills (2-4), both nearing the end of their seasons and both with huge contingents of fans clamoring into the bleachers, went head to head under the bright lights on the big field. 

Granite Hills picked up two goals in the first half, but the team seemed stiff as they stretched their legs out on the expansive green. Minutes before the end of the half the Wolfpack came back with a goal by Paul Anderson, which left fans howling in the stands. 

But in the second half, the Eagles found their wings and pummeled the Wolfpack defense with an aggressive onslaught that West Hills’ freshman goalie Garrett Key could not keep up with, though not for a lack of concerted effort. Gaining one goal on a penalty kick and two more on attacks, the Eagles were practically soaring by the end of the game. 

It was a much needed win for the Eagles, who lost to Valhalla in their last game, making their position for league champions a little more precarious. Grossmont is the current leader with two games left in the season, Granite Hills trailing closely behind. 

Although West Hills is not usually a tough match for the Eagles, Granite Hills captain J.J. Gaeir said the venue added a lot of pressure.

“This atmosphere definitely made us nervous coming into the game,” he said. “As the game went on we definitely found our rhythm. It’s just a big stadium, everyone was talking about the game, but it was actually really fun.”

The field, which opened in 1967, hosts many professional soccer events, including FIFA tournaments and international friendly matches with the Mexico National Team, the most recent of which set an all-time regional attendance records for the sport. 

Gaeir’s co-captain, Diego Judiz, said once the game got underway, the size of Qualcomm’s field really made a difference compared to their regular high school venues. 

“When you’re on the field playing and your adrenaline is rushing, the field feels the same size,” he said. “Once you start moving around on it moving from attacking to defending, running up and down the field starts to feel exhausting. You really begin to feel it.”

CIF has hosted a number of high school games at Qualcomm, but this is a first for soccer, said Granite Hills head coach Jason Heth.

“I think they’re going to try to do a big game like this every year,” he said. “They’ve done it for some other sports so they’re just trying to make sure they do it for all the high school kids, give everyone an opportunity. They worked hard on it. It’s a nice thing for the kids.”

Heth said he has been very impressed with his team this year, which includes six freshman, a dozen seniors and “a mix of everything in between.” Hard work and good leadership have made all the difference, he said.

Gaeir was quick to point out that the season is not over for the Eagles.

“We still have to win league and CIF, that’s the big stage we have to prepare for,” he said. “We’re still hungry and we’re not stopping.”

For West Hills, the game at Qualcomm was simply a nice way to wind down the season, a good experience for everyone involved, said their head coach Russ Shubert. 

“The boys enjoyed themselves,” he said. “Tough on the score lines for us, but we played all our players and just enjoyed it. It was more about the experience than anything else.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here