The way Diamond Bar High School boys soccer coach Kemp Wells explains it, the soccer gods are cruel sometimes, which might explain the Brahmas' winless December, which included eight losses and a tie in their first nine games.
"We were ahead in a lot of games, they (opponents) would tie it and we would give up," Wells said. "If we got behind, there wasn't a lot of fight, we weren't coming back. It kind of snowballed and was frustrating."
Since the Hacienda League started, the Brahmas have done a complete turnaround, winning at Diamond Ranch 2-1 on Thursday for sole possession of first place.
It was their sixth win in seven games and improved their record to 6-9-1 overall and 6-1 in league.
And the Brahmas won after falling behind.
Diamond Ranch (10-7-1, 5-2-1) was dangerous early, especially on Andres Gallegos' rifle-like throw-ins that zipped across the penalty area.
After a couple near-misses early, the Brahmas failed to clear Gallegos' long throw into the box, and Diamond Ranch's Ishmael Dimas was there to clean it up, firing at close range for a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
The Brahmas tied the score on a picture-perfect give-and-get-back short corner kick.
Evan Valpraiso played a short corner to Kase Vollebregt, who gave it right back to Valpraiso with a better angle on goal. Valpraiso fired it across the mouth and buried it far side to tie the score, 1-1, in the 25th minute.
Vollebregt howed he can create and finish too, dribbling away from two defenders and firing the game-winner from 20 yards in the 67th minute for the go-ahead score.
"That's what he's been doing lately in league, he's (Vollebregt) putting the ball away, which is what he's supposed to do," Wells said. "He has great footwork, a great shot, and you saw it on that goal."
More importantly, Wells loved how his team reacted after falling behind.
"This wouldn't have happened earlier in the year," Wells said. "We wouldn't have come back. They know that they're playing for something now, and sometimes that makes a world of difference."
Diamond Bar might have got away with a handball in the penalty area in the final seconds. Even Brahmas athletic director Kurt Davies told Wells he thought they got away one with one afterward, but referees like to be thoroughly convinced before awarding a penalty kick in the final seconds.
"Yeah, definitely, there were a couple calls they could have made," Diamond Ranch coach Jerry Martinez said. "But you know what, that's soccer, the refs are part of the game. They're human beings and they make mistakes. That's how it is. We can't hang our heads on a ref's bad call, if we put away our opportunities like we should have, it wouldn't come down to a controversy call or non-call."
Diamond Ranch had chances to double its lead early, but Brahmas goalkeeper Bayan Mohammadi played well.
"It was a big game and we had our fair share of chances," Martinez said "But it comes down to who puts it in the back of the net, not how many chances you get. They had their chances and they put theirs away. At the end that's what matters."
Diamond Bar will close out the first half of league play today at Los Altos (9-5-4, 3-1-2).