With about seven minutes left Tuesday night, Carlos Reyes-Aviles walked off the turf at RedHawk Stadium with a big smile on his face.
The South Albany High junior midfielder shook coach Tony Vandermeer’s hand and watched the last few minutes from the sidelines.
His hat trick was part of a six-goal performance by the RedHawks, who earned the first boys soccer playoff win in program history with a 6-1 thumping of Rex Putnam in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
“It’s amazing,” Reyes-Aviles said. “It’s crazy how far this team has come and it just feels great to be the first team to have ever done this.”
Senior Ozzie Ramirez said the win was a culmination of a lot of hard work over the past few years.
“This is what we’ve been looking for, this is what we’ve been looking forward to and I’m just happy that we finally got the chance to do this, to make history,” he said.
South, the No. 3 seed, will play host to No. 6 Silverton, which blanked Springfield 3-0, on Saturday. The teams played to a 3-3 draw at South on Oct. 18.
Up 2-0 at the half. Reyes-Aviles buried his second goal of the game in the 44th minute for a 3-0 lead.
A penalty kick by Gabe Dyer in the 47th gave the Kingsmen some life.
But Juan Palacios’ goal in the 58th restored some order.
“It was big for us,” Reyes-Aviles said of Palacios’ goal. “If we would have left it at that score it would have been very troublesome for us. But the good thing is we got the goals and a good win.”
Added Palacios: “It made me proud to score for my team. I enjoy this team a lot.”
Reyes-Aviles made sure there would be no more comeback attempts for the Kingsmen when he completed the hat trick in the 68th minute for a 5-1 edge.
Seconds later, freshman Chris Monroy scored for the 6-1 final.
“I’m just happy I could contribute to the team, it’s a team win,” Reyes-Aviles said.
Ramirez was excited to see Reyes-Aviles come up big on the big stage.
“He’s one of the hardest working people I have ever seen and I’m just happy to see him triumph," he said. "He deserves it.”
The RedHawks had several quality chances in the first 15 minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Finally, in the 18th minute, Slava Hubenya was able to slip behind the Kingsmen defense and buried it in the far corner for a 1-0 lead.
It took less than two minutes to double the advantage as Hubenya fed Reyes-Aviles for the goal.
“It was a big confidence booster to score two right off the bat,” Ramirez said. “I’m just glad we got the score. I was getting a little scared we weren’t going to score because we had a lot of chances. But I knew in the end we would, I trusted my teammates and I knew we would pull it off.”
The Kingsmen didn’t have many quality chances in the first half. One of their best came in the 39th minute but Isaac Arrequin’s free kick from 20 yards out sailed over the cross bar to keep it 2-0 at intermission.
The victory eases some of the sting of falling short in their quest for a Mid-Willamette Conference title. The RedHawks tied their last two matches and had to settle for third place.
“The second we knew we lost the championship, we had to own it, we had to own the loss,” Reyes-Aviles said. “So we just had to get over it and focus in the next game.”