It was only his second goal all season, but it happened to be his team’s biggest. Nima
Bahri’s tally on a rebound with under two minutes remaining in double overtime lifted the Palisades High boys soccer squad to a 2-1 upset over Granada Hills for its first City Section championship on the rainy Saturday night of March 5, 2016, at Los Angeles Valley College. The Dolphins earned their place in the final with a dramatic 6-5 shootout triumph against Sylmar in the semifinals four days earlier. The championship game was a rematch of the South East Winter Classic final Jan. 9 when the Highlanders prevailed 4-2 on penalty kicks. Third-seeded Palisades struck first when Angel Gomez got free in the six-yard box and buried a feed from Jack Hockley into the net in the 14th minute. The top-seeded Highlanders equalized on a free kick by Jediel Nunez in the 52nd minute and Granada Hills thought it had scored the go-ahead goal late in regulation but it was disallowed on an illegal push in the back foul. Gerardo Martinez banged a shot off the post on a free kick midway through the second half, but the Dolphins’ scoring chances were few and far between. Palisades goalkeeper Cole Llorens was under siege the entire game and finished with 17 saves, including a diving grab off a cross in the first overtime. “Max Parcell crossed it from the right, I headed it down to Angel Gomez and he hit the post,” Bahri said of his game-winning goal. “I was right there to finish it, the goalie was down and I placed it high so their defender couldn’t deflect it. I didn’t want to celebrate too hard and get a yellow card.” The next 90 seconds were full of tension as Granada Hills pressed for a tying goal to extend the match but then the final whistle blew and the Dolphins celebrated. Palisades advanced to the CIF SoCal Regionals, where its season ended two days later in a 3-1 loss to Santa Barbara.
Coach Dave Suarez was proud of the team’s most successful season ever. Palisades went 19-3-2 in 2015-16, including a 9-1-2 mark in Western League play, and allowed 15 goals in 24 games while recording 11 shutouts. Senior forward Chad Johnson led the squad with 15 goals and four assists for 34 points.
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