90 minutes stood between Menlo and a California Pacific Conference title as the Oaks and Hawks of Holy Names met for the second time this season. For the winner…the California Conference Championship and a spot in the NAIA National Tournament. The loser… the season comes to a disappointing end. In a pressure packed battle, the Oaks came out victorious with a dramatic 2-0 victory to take the Cal PAC crown and send in their RSVP to the playoff party.
The two teams refused to budge an inch over the contest's first 45 minutes as rock solid defense was the name of the game. The scoreless first half only added to the intensity and pressure of the situation, as it would come down to the final 45 to decide the champion.
Just over 15 minutes into the second half, the Hawks blinked first. Menlo's Alexander Kunkel put together a beautiful cross to Dylan Crist who found Matheus Barbosa for the score and in the process sent the Oaks faithful into an absolute frenzy. With the goal, Barbosa surpassed Alex Vukic for the team lead in goals with ten.
Minutes later, now with a 1-0 lead, they did it again. Menlo's Jose Castaneda, the freshman from Guatemala City ripped one from just inside the box that found the back of the net to give the Oaks a commanding 2-0 advantage. Castaneda's missile was just his second score of the season, but quite possibly the most significant of the 2011 campaign.
Menlo's stingy defense led by junior goal keeper Alex Palomarez could not only smell it, but taste it as they came up clutch to preserve the shutout and snapped the Hawks string of five straight conference titles.
The Oaks finish their conference slate undefeated at a perfect 10-0 as they gear up for the NAIA National Playoff Tournament.