Shorthanded Van Horn finds way past Cardinals

Coronado's two goals, including PK in overtime, lifts Van Horn into district championship

By Bill Althaus

Nine minutes into overtime, Van Horn junior midfielder Diego Coronado stepped toward the net, knowing that the Class 3 District 14 semifinal game against Raytown South was in his hands.

He had been fouled and was about to take a penalty kick, as Cardinals goalie Rodrigo Torres braced for the big moment.

“I really wasn’t that nervous,” said Coronado, who drilled the ball past Torres to give the Falcons a 3-2 victory and the opportunity to play St. Michael the Archangel Catholic at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the district championship game at William Chrisman High School.

“I was confident, and I wanted to make that kick for my teammates, our coaches and our fans. We were not 100 percent tonight, but if you wear a Van Horn jersey you can play, and we had so many players rise to the occasion tonight.

“I kicked the game-winner, but we can all share in this victory.”

The 16-4 Falcons were missing four starters, including All-American forward Edison Rios, who was attending to a family situation out of state.

“With Edison, Johnny (Esparza-DeLaRosa), Jefferson (Rios) and Tony (Chavira) missing for injuries or personal situations, I thought we really rose to the occasion tonight,” Van Horn coach Jesus Rodriguez said.

“This was the No. 10 team in the state in Raytown South playing our team, and we are ranked No. 6 and missing four starters, and we played a very strong game. That is a very good Raytown South team, but we found a way to get a big win and live to play another game.”

When St. Michael and Van Horn met in the regular season, the Guardians came away with a 2-1 overtime win.

“That was an outstanding game, and I believe Wednesday’s game will be another outstanding game,” Rodriguez said. “We will hopefully be at full strength and have our players back.”

The marquee matchup against the 15-6 Cardinals lived up to all expectations as Yovani Moreno headed a ball past Torres in the 35th minute to give Van Horn a 1-0 lead.

That was the halftime score, but the Cardinals used a 43-yard free kick off the foot of Kevin Frias to knot the score in the 47th minute.

“I saw the ball coming, and it was coming from a long way away,” Van Horn goalie Cooper Sumpter said, “and it just sailed over my hands. But I knew my teammates would fight back and score another goal.”

They did, when Coronado curved a long-range 22-yarder past Torres to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute.

But just six minutes later, Raytown South’s Francisco Hernandez scored on a penalty kick to knot the score at 2 and set up the thrilling overtime period.

“I knew when Diego went to get that PK, we were going to win the game,” Sumpter said. “They’re so hard to stop and he’s one of the best players we have. I felt for their goalie, because you feel so bad when one goes past you, but I’m just glad it was Diego that scored and not one of their players.”