Johnson started slow in Tuesday’s first-round matchup against Northview in the Class 5A state tournament, but three second-half goals were enough to power the Knights to a 4-2 win at home to advance to the second round.
“The boys came out to play,” Johnson head coach Frank Zamora said after the game. “They stuck to the plan, and we were able to find the penetrating runs and those crosses. And thankfully we came out on top.”
Jorge Sandoval scored a pair of goals in the game to lead the Knights on offense, while Abraham Gomez and Kevin Castillo supplied the other Johnson goals.
The Knights got the scoring started about halfway through the opening half, when Sandoval found the ball on his foot following a deflected corner kick and put the ball away into the left side of the net to go up 1-0. But Northview’s Alex Loyeviskiy equalized for the Titans in similar fashion less than two minutes later, and Johnson was back to square one.
“It kills the momentum,” Zamora said. “We were able to get some momentum there with that goal. Obviously, a few minutes later, they tie it up and they get the momentum. So it’s just momentum switches back and forth.”
Neither team managed to break the tie before halftime, but when the players came back following the 10-minute break, the Knights quickly reclaimed the advantage.
Gomez put Johnson on top about 15 minutes into the half, when he received a pass into the middle of the box and chipped the ball over the diving Northview goalkeeper.
Sandoval put the game further out of reach five minutes later, dribbling past three Titans defenders in an individual effort down the left side of the field and finishing the goal off with a left-footed shot to put the Knights on top 3-1. Castillo put the finishing touch on the win with an easy goal following a precise set of back-and-forth passes with Ramon Aguilar that put Castillo in position to easily slot the ball away and put Johnson up 4-1.
Northview got a goal from Johnathan Macias that came with less than five minutes left in the game, but the Titans never truly threatened the Knights lead.
Up next, Johnson will advance to take on the winner of Grady and Cass high schools next Tuesday in Oakwood.