The Jurupa Hills High School soccer men could not have asked for a more thrilling finish to the regular season.
The Spartans brought down Eisenhower, 2-1, in the San Andreas League finale on Feb. 6 at the Ike field.
"This victory was fantastic, it took us into the playoffs and gave us second place," said coach Armando Fresquez after the Spartans raised their record to 6-3-1 in the league and 9-6-3 overall.
The Spartans ended up just behind first-place Rialto (which was 6-2-2) and ahead of Eisenhower, which fell to 5-2-3 after previously being the No. 1 team in the standings.
Assistant coach Jorge Villegas Ruiz said the Jurupa Hills players did a great job in a very tough league.
"We had a slump in the middle of the season, and these boys dug themselves out," he said.
After losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to Rialto on Jan. 23, the Spartans were facing the very real possibility of not making the playoffs. But then they battled back and came through with four straight victories -- 3-0 over Rim of the World, 3-2 over San Gorgonio, 3-1 over Arroyo Valley, and 2-1 over Ike.
Team captain Raymond Fernandez made the difference against the Eagles, scoring both of the Spartans' goals.
He converted a penalty kick in the first half, and then after Ike tied the score, Fernandez drilled in the game-winner with 25 minutes remaining in the second half.
"I want to thank God for giving me strength; I prayed before the game and I felt like it really helped me," Fernandez said.
Thanks to a great defensive performance, the Spartans held on for the win and are now looking forward to CIF competition.