Prep Impressions: Feb. 27, 2009

I covered the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 Boys Soccer Semfinal match between Temecula Great Oak and Bloomingtonfor the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, and came away wishing I had asked Great Oak head coach Geoff Houck his age.

From the way he was dishing out the chest bumps, I’d say he’s 23. But I’m guessing he’s 28. And certainly not 30.

Houck’s energy kept his players going time and again and he was constantly heard picking up any player within shouting distance with words of encouragement. I wasn’t surprised then that his team defeated Bloomington 4-0 to advance to the CIF Semifinals — he practically willed them there.

“When I was a player, the farthest I got was the CIF Semis,” said Houck. “Now I want everyone else to know what that’s like and we can go to the finals, for the first time, together.”

Before Friday, the Wolfpack soccer program hadn’t advanced past the quarterfinals.

“We’re doing things no other group has done before,” said Houck. “This school’s only 4-or-5 year’s old but we’re showing that we have a strong program.”

Houck’s team dominated possession of the ball and won more free kicks in dangerous areas than Bloomington had shots on goal.

Great Oak’s top player, Dakota Collins (6-for-1, 165 pounds) controlled midfield and was so good on the ball that he seemed bored at times. He scored when he pounced on a bounding ball just outside the box and hammered it home for his third goal in three playoff games.

Wolfpack goalkeeper Bryce Bookhammer didn’t have a lot to do but came under some fire late as Bloomington pushed everyone forward. He did make several nice diving saves and finished with five saves and his shutout streak alive at five, including three in three games this postseason.

Neither player was particularly quotable after the game, although Collins did open up a little bit. He seemed excited about his opportunity to play at UCLA next season when I asked him about it and was confident about his team’s chances of winning a CIF title.

Bloomington was overmatched from the start. They were small at forward and were not a very good passing team. They had scored impressively (13 goals in 2 games) coming in to the match but were halted at every turn. They attempted several long throws aimed at Bookhammer but came up empty. Their counter-attack, which head coach Marc Howard admitted would be the crux of their gameplan, fell flat.

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