Warriors score two late goals to steal a 2-1 win in overtime

The La Salle Prep Falcons let one get away from them Saturday night at Liberty High School, bowing 2-1 in overtime to Philomath in a very physical Class 4A boys soccer final played at Liberty High School.

The Falcons came out super aggressive and went up 1-0 just 10 minutes into the contest, when La Salle senior co-captain Dakota Eisel beat Philomath goalie Ben Michaud one-in-one on a breakaway.

The two evenly matched teams continued to trade blows throughout the contest, and it appeared that the Falcons would make their 1-0 lead stand up, despite the officials’ whistles siding with the Warriors.

But the Falcons’ bubble was burst with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation, when Philomath senior Matt St. Clair took advantage of a Falcons foul to score the equalizer, heading the ball in off a long free kick taken from near the right sideline.

Both teams had their chances in the ensuing play. But the Falcons’ shots fell off the mark or went right to the Warrior keeper.

With 8-1/2 minutes remaining in the two 10-minute overtimes, St. Clair put the game-winner in, scoring from inside the 18-yard box, following a free kick from 40 yards out.

There were 24 fouls called on the two teams during the game, 15 of them on the Falcons.

Led by Eisel (7 shots, including 3 on-frame), the Falcons outshot the Warriors, 13-9. La Salle sophomore keeper Dylan Tran made three saves; Michaud made four saves for Philomath.

“It’s always disappointing when your season ends on a loss,” said La Salle senior co-captain David Lillie. “But we had a good season. And I thought we came out really solid tonight. It was a very physical game. Technically, I thought we played real well. But they’ve got a real big team, and they were more physical than we were.”

“I’m very proud of these kids,” said La Salle coach Joe Frimpong. “They accomplished a lot this year. They had 16 wins and only three losses. They came into the playoffs ranked eighth in the state and made the finals. They are one of the best teams I’ve had at La Salle in five years.... They’re very disciplined and they work hard as a team. They just came up a little short tonight.”

It was the Falcons’ 12th appearance in a state final since 1991, when they made their first final. La Salle boys soccer teams have won five state titles, the last one in 2009.

It was the first state final and the first title in school history for Philomath, which finished the year with a 13-2-3 record.

“I’ve been in the program four years and this is what we dreamed about when we went 12-0-1 [in jayvee soccer] as freshmen,” said Philomath senior co-captain Jeremy Goodrich. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Goodrich explained the Warriors’ success: “We don’t have just one kid who does our scoring. We’ve got lots of kids who can score, and that makes us hard to defend.”

The Warriors, who lost to 2011 state champion Molalla 1-0 in last year’s semifinals, will graduate eight starters from this year’s state-playoff roster.

The fourth-ranked Warriors advanced to Saturday’s final through a 3-2 overtime win over top-ranked McLoughlin in the semifinals.

La Salle advanced through shutouts in three playoffs games, defeating 10th-ranked North Bend 4-0, third-ranked Stayton 2-0 and second-ranked Phoenix 4-0.

With only five seniors on their 20-player state-playoff roster, the Falcons should be good again next year.

Lost to graduation will be David Lillie, Dakota Eisel, Peter Nguyen, Brayan Rodriguez and Mathew Collier.

Players who started in Saturday’s final expected to return include: juniors Keegan Wesley (midfield) and Stephan Malin (stopper); and sophomores Dylan Tran (goalie), Greg Manzano (forward), Kevin Luyamba (defense), James Higgins (midfield), Duran Herrera (midfield) and Ian Hamel (defense).

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