Aloha's boys break a 1-1 tie with Grants Pass with just 3:30 left in the game
ALOHA - Aloha had played too well for too long and dominated for too much of its Thursday soccer match against Grants Pass to come away with anything but a victory.
The Warriors boys soccer team (3-0-1) dominated Grants Pass throughout its non-league match at Aloha High School last Thursday, holding the Cavemen to just two shots on goal and finally broke through to lead 1-0 with 13 minutes remaining. But Grants Pass was awarded a penalty kick with less than seven minutes to play, converted to tie the game at 1-1 and seemed well on its way to an undeserved tie.
But the Warriors made sure they weren't denied. Aloha answered with a Kyle Vstecka goal with 3:30 left on the clock and walked off with the victory.
'It would have felt like a loss if we hadn't (scored that last goal) because we dominated the whole game,' said Aloha junior midfielder Graeme Solin. 'It would have been really frustrating to get a tie.'
'It's always nice to get the good result, even if you don't deserve it, but we definitely did deserve it,' Aloha coach Eric Wise said.
The statistics bore Wise's statement out too, with the Warriors collecting four corner kicks to Grants Pass' one and notching 16 shots on goal to the Cavemen's two.
Still, neither team got on the scoreboard during the first half and Aloha had to settle for a scoreless tie at the half despite its best efforts to the contrary. The Warriors' best chances to score in the opening period came when sophomore Borce Atanosov smacked a shot off the top right-hand corner of the goal with 17:05 left in the half, and when senior forward Eduardo Garcia sent a shot of his own off the Grants Pass crossbar with 8:40 remaining before halftime.
The Warriors had more chances - and the Cavemen none - in the first 20 minutes of the second half too. Foremost among those were Aloha senior forward Kyle Neblett's shot at the left post saved by Caveman keeper Killian Maxwell with 25 minutes left, and a Garcia header at the right post on a Neblett cross that sent both Garcia and Maxwell crashing to the turf with 22:40 remaining.
But finally, finally Aloha broke through to take the lead
with 13:28 left in the game. The Warriors pushed the ball up the right side of the field and Garcia collected it 15 yards right wide of
the Caveman goal. From there, he turned and struck a hard shot to the corner of the Grants Pass goal that glanced off Maxwell's
hands and in for the score.
'He's a phenomenal player,' Wise said of Garcia, the team's leading scorer. 'That was a heck of a shot.'
But the Warriors' lead lasted less than seven minutes. With 6:42 remaining, Warrior junior defender Ben Kim was whistled for a foul on Grants Pass' Matt Richardson inside the penalty box and the Cavemen were awarded a penalty kick. Caveman junior forward Dallas Bille connected to the left side of the goal past diving Aloha keeper James Anderson to tie the score at 1-1.
'It's frustrating when you get a call like that, but it was legitimate,' Wise said. 'Any time you tackle a guy from behind in the box you're going to get that.'
Undeterred, perhaps even energized by Grants Pass' goal, Aloha came back with the game-winner with 3:30 left to go. Senior Aaron Taylor played a long cross to the middle of the field to Garcia, who chipped it over a Caveman defender to Vstecka who hit a rocket past Maxwell for the final 2-1 margin.
'A win is a win and that always feels good,' Solin said. 'We pressured them a lot and got the possession.'
In upcoming games, Aloha opens Metro League play at home against Westview at 7:30 p.m. Monday, then plays at Southridge at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28.