By Kevin Parada, Staff Writer
Verbum Dei High School has had years-long battles with Cathedral High School in the Division 1 League as well as Division 1 CIF. The fateful game this season took place in the Los Angeles Coliseum before a record-setting crowd.
In games both home and away, the rival teams battled through each of their own league games and ended in respective league championships for Verb as well as for Cathedral. The two teams finished their seasons as co-league champs and moved into the CIF brackets looking for revenge.
Every game’s stands were filled with scouts, alumni, and fans. The home team brought its school band, the Verb brought remnants of its on-and-off-again drumline, and ESPN, as well as other sports media outlets’ representatives, surrounded the field.
Celebrities were plentiful: Lionel Messi, Cristian Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., and many more soccer luminaries were present for the final game of the CIF bracket in which both Los Angeles-area teams faced each other for their first title match-up in history.
“This game raised so much money for the school and the team,” said Verb Head Soccer Coach Racso Asor. “Publicity has been intense, and the scouts have been looking at every starter since they got off their private jets at LAX.”
“We gave the Eagles every resource: planes, training regimens, and equipment,” said Stokely Van Camp, CEO of Gatorade. “Verb will win this game and send the Phantoms back to their graveyard.”
The Eagles were seen as the underdogs. After all, this was the was the program’s first year making it as far. Considering their Corporate Work Study Program employment, rigorous academics, and family demands in the balance, combined with soccer cutting practice days by half, the focused athletes represented their school well. The dedicated spotted-ballers practiced from 3:45 to-5:00 P.M. daily, including Saturdays and Sundays, in order to fully balance their multitudinous obligations..
“As of right now the team is nervous,” said senior Nitsuj Zenuf, the second captain of the team, before the start of the match. “We are prepared for this game. We will all be going pro in the next few years, so this is getting a feel of the real game.”
The referees checked everyone and whistled, making the stadium erupt with the 60,000+ fans – the mere amplitude shocking the players. The game was evenly matched until the Cathedral Phantoms scored a penalty. Nivek Adarap, Verb co-captain, was issued a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct. The defender, most likely acting, rolled about the field for interminable minutes before rising on tentative legs to resume play as normal.
The capacity stadium crowd booed and cheered for the goal, but not even two minutes in the game, Cire Zerimer scored a header tying the game. No one expected it, and everyone was in shock.
The overly-physical Adarap made a brutal tackle sending the Phantoms back to the penalty spot, where they missed the last minute play. This tackle sent Adarap out of the game with a red card.
The game went into overtime, and in minute 117 Leinad Otirrod scored a scissor kick to close the game with the Eagles as CIF Champions.
“I had to do what the defense had to do in a key game, ” stated the rough and tumble Adarap. “As you can see my decision paid off, and now I’m MVP.”
All 11 Eagles players earned full ride scholarships to Clemson University, Duke University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
The news echoed across all of the world as VDHS soccer was praised for its hard work and the worked-for, so-called “miracles” realized.