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Late goals halt Culver soccer win hopes

If a most improved loss exists, the Culver soccer team has one.
   The Bulldogs lost a 3-1 decision to visiting Grant Union in 3A-2A-1A Special District 5 action Saturday. The Prospectors owned a 6-1 nonleague home victory against Culver last month.
   It is the Bulldogs' first league loss, dropping to 2-1-1 while Grant Union is also undefeated.
   "In some ways this was the best game we've played this season," Culver coach Tom Kirk said. "We played a very athletic, strong team without any weaknesses."
   Both teams had two dozens shots, Kirk estimated. The match was scoreless for most of the first half. Grant Union scored on a play set up by a throw-in with seconds remaining in the first half.
   "We felt really good about that first half until they scored with a couple of ticks left," Kirk said.
   Culver tied the match 10 minutes into the second half as Juan Gutierrez scored off a pass from Juan Terrazas. Gutierrez moved up from defender to give the Bulldogs more offensive punch.
   "Juan is our best defender and the backbone of our defense," Kirk said. "He's our unsung player, not flashy but he's played solid all season."
   Grant Union scored soon after the Culver goal to regain the lead. The Prospectors added a disputed goal in the final minutes on a long throw in.
   "Our guys said the ball didn't touch anybody before it went into the goal," Kirk said. "That's not a legal goal. The referee said the ball touched a player. We also missed a few scoring chances, but that's how soccer is."
   Culver keeper Carmelo Felix and his Prospector counterpart had 20 saves each, Kirk estimated.
   The Bulldogs have two matches remaining, both against unbeaten teams going into this week. Culver travels to Umatilla on Saturday and hosts Riverside on Saturday, Oct. 28.
   "The Grant Union coach (Ken Purnell) was saying we'll be finishing up our season by facing the three best teams in the league," Kirk said.
   If so, it's four teams battling for three playoff spots. Those playoffs start on Nov. 10-11 with eight matches.