ATWATER — Rodrigo Avila made two mistakes on Thursday.
The first one turned out well. The Buhach Colony High senior's attempted pass found its way into the net for a goal in the second half. That gave the Thunder some breathing room in their 2-0 win over McNair in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 quarterfinals.
Avila's second mistake ended in a red card that will keep the midfielder out of Wednesday's semifinal matchup with El Camino.
"Not having Rodrigo is going to be difficult," Buhach Colony coach Gus Oliveros said. "Jose Ramirez plays center midfield for his club team. We'll move him there. We'll work on some things with him."
Avila's red card was the only cloud hanging over Buhach Colony, which advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2005.
The Thunder defeated McNair (14-3-3) in a wide-open affair that saw plenty of scoring opportunities for both teams right from the start.
Just 40 seconds into the game Ramirez had a shot to give Buhach Colony (16-7-4) an early lead but his header was off to the right. Two minutes later Hector Maldonado missed a shot wide left from in front of the net.
However, in the 9th minute, those two combined to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead as Ramirez powered his way through the Eagles defense, dribbled through McNair goalie Moises Plaza on the baseline and found Maldonado wide open in front of the net for a goal.
"Jose Ramirez didn't quit on that ball," Oliveros said. "We played the ball all the way through the line and was able to poke it Hector who was there to pick up the pieces."
McNair had many chances to score the equalizer. Three times Buhach Colony goalie Miguel Guerrero made saves on one-on-one opportunities, including a sliding stop when he came out of the box on a breakaway chance from McNair's Martin Barriga in the 46th minute.
Guerrero finished with six saves.
"We had more breakaways than they did," said McNair coach Anthony Matthews. "We just didn't put the ball in the net. (Buhach Colony) came out and controlled the game early, but I thought we controlled the ball in the second half and last 20 minutes of the first half. There was some questionable offsides calls and when we weren't offsides we couldn't score."
Avila finally doubled the Thunder's lead when he scored from the right wing in the 57th minute.
"I was actually trying to cross it," Avila said. "It was just one of those shots that goes in. I wasn't trying to do it. It just happened. I'm glad it went in and we went up 2-0."
Avila picked up his red card just two minutes after scoring his goal. The referee felt Avila was retaliating for a hit on Ramirez just moments before.
"I was surprised I got the red card," Avila said. "I wasn't doing anything intentionally."
Avila must now watch to see if there will be a section championship game in Buhach's future for him to suit up for.
"We know we're talented," he said. "We just want to keep on going. We feel we can go all the way."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.