No. 12 Freedom seeking spot in NCS final tonight

February 20, 2013, 12:30 pm
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By Taylor Lambert

Cal Hi Sports

The phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts" rings true for many teams in sports. This especially counts true for teams who were often second thoughts but stayed together to raise the championship trophies at the end of the year, like the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team, the 2001 New England Patriots, the 2010 and 2012 San Francisco Giants and of course the Mighty Ducks from all 12 Mighty Ducks movies. Sometimes there's magic in the air, everything falls into place for a team and their confidence grows.

This same phenomenon may be happening right now, possibly as you're reading this, with the Freedom High School boys soccer team. The Falcons are in the Division I NCS Playoffs right now and have opened some eyes around the Bay. Freedom is seeded 12th in a 16-team bracket and already upset No. 5 Berkeley in round one 3-0 and then rolled over No. 4 Pittsburg 2-0. This is the first year ever Freedom has even made it into the NCS Playoffs and now that they're there, the Falcons are making noise.

As I write this, Freedom is seven hours away from a semi-final match-up against powerhouse De La Salle, the No. 1 one-seeded team in the tourney and four-time defending champions. DLS is used to being in this position. Freedom isn't, but when a team is clicking as well as the Falcons, I wouldn't put anything by them.

We were planning on doing a team interview a week ago with the winner of the first round game between Freedom and Berkeley. I saw the rankings and thought Berkeley would run away with the win, so I set up the location and time as if Berkeley had already won the thing, but when I showed up at the game it was a different case. Berkeley came out firing, tallying the first five shots of the match in the first 20 minutes of play. Freedom looked to be on their heels but stayed strong and didn't flinch at the assault, then in the 18th minute, they struck. Raul Lopez played a beautiful ball to a streaking Jorge Cendejas who one-timed it into the back of the net - Freedom goes up 1-0. The game was different from that point on, as the Falcons were the bullied, pushed and passed their way out of attacks and turned them into scoring chances. Final score: 3-0 Freedom, causing me to scramble to set-up the new interview the following day.

While Freedom does have a ton of talent on their team, it's the way they play, the way they look out for each other and the chemistry between the players which is really the reason the Falcons are on this hot streak. Freedom has won six-straight matches, giving up only one goal along the way, which was actually an own-goal. Their play will be tested tonight, Wednesday, against De La Salle at 7 p.m. The number No. 1 seed against the 12th. If I had to guess, Freedom has as good a shot as anyone... And at this point, I'm not betting against them.