CLOSER LOOK: La Sierra MF Dominic Escalera

Take a closer look at Riverside La Sierra senior Dominic Escalera and you’ll see as hard-nosed attacking midfielder ready to take the next step in his playing career.

Escalera was the lynch pin of Dave Eckenrod’s attack this season, using his 6-foot-1 frame to body his man and his skills to beat defenders. Playing in a Steven Gerrard-style role, Escalera scored 17 goals and had 12 assists as La Sierra (18-5-5 overall) advanced to a CIF-Southern Section semifinal for the first time in the school’s 43-year history.

I caught up with Escalera following the Eagles’ 2-1 loss to Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

He had an assist on La Sierra’s goal, which came when teammate Kenshiro Daniels flicked in his DFK from outside the area. The Eagles held the lead until the final minutes, when Capistrano Valley scored twice to steal the victory.

Walk me through those last two minutes.

“We tried our hardest, just unlucky. Things just don’t always go the way you plan them.”

What was the players’ temperature like on the field?

“Big games like this they get physical. You just get frustrated. They get frustrated, they retaliate. And usually we’re good on that but today we couldn’t… didn’t handle it as well as we should.”

Can you think about what this season has meant to this team, this program and to you?

“This season has been the best. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4 years old and this is one of my greatest accomplishments. I just felt great being on a team, and loving so much like family. Now that it’s over it sucks total.

What do you think the underclassmen will be able to take from an experience like today?

“The young guys, they’ll use it next year. This’ll just push them harder next year, seeing that we almost had this year. They’re going to try hard.”

I had waited to speak to Escalera for a minute or two until after a local NCAA Division III soccer coach spoke to him for several moments and shook his hand. It was one of those great-game-you-can-call-me-anytime type of meetings that have probably become pretty normal for the player.

And definitely not the last time he’s going to leave a member of the media waiting.

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