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Vikings fall to Roosevelt in playoff opener

Forest Grove's season ends with a 2-1 loss in the first round of the boys soccer playoffs

For one team, last Saturday’s Class 6A boys soccer first-round playoff match turned into the highest of highs.

For the other, the match spiraled south and also turned into a something of a goodbye.

 - Forest Grove's Ivan Garcia-Gonzalez (16) goes shoulder-to-shoulder with Roosevelt's Jonathon Diaz during last Saturday's playoff game.

Roosevelt scored two goals in the second half to pull off a 2-1 comeback victory against Forest Grove at Dick Hendricks Stadium. The win was the first ever in the state playoffs for the Roughriders, who upset the eighth-seeded Vikings to advance to the round of the 16.

“It feels great. It’s a crazy feeling,” said Michael Underwood, who notched the game-winner with about 12 minutes remaining. “This is the first time we actually won ever in history for Roosevelt in the playoffs. We’ve never won.”

No. 25 Roosevelt (8-6-2) was scheduled to play on Tuesday at No. 24 Beaverton, which upset ninth-seeded David Douglas 1-0 in the first round. Forest Grove finished the season with a 9-3-3 record.

Both teams struggled to find many opportunities during the first half, most of which was played in rainy conditions. After the rain stopped, the action started to heat up in the second half.

The night looked like it might belong to the Vikings after Diego Gaspar-Perez opened the scoring about a minute into the second half. After a Roosevelt handball, Forest Grove received a free kick just outside the top of the penalty area, and Gaspar-Perez sent a beautiful shot over Roosevelt goalkeeper Jordan Asher and inside the left post for a 1-0 lead.

The Vikings would get several more prime opportunities to score, but they never could cash in again, which would come back to haunt them.

The Roughriders (8-6-2) equalized about five minutes later on an opportunistic goal by Erick Reynel, after a long free kick by Oscar Garcia, who drilled the ball right toward the Forest Grove goal. The ball caromed off Viking goalkeeper Natan Lizier-Zmudzinski and fell on the left side to the feet of Reynel, who scored from close range after having worked his way to that part of the field.

With about 12 minutes to go, it was the freshman Underwood’s turn to step into the spotlight. After the Roughriders played a ball into their final third, a Forest Grove defender whiffed on it. Underwood continued to track it and sent a low shot into the net from the left side as Lizier-Zmudzinski ran out at him.

The Vikings had several good chances to tie but couldn’t. Perhaps the best of the bunch came with about a minute remaining, when Gaspar-Perez curled a free kick from the left side toward the goal. It hit the crossbar and bounced away, helping preserve the upset for Roosevelt.

“We were doing good, we were winning 1-0, and then I don’t know, I guess we probably just got a little bit too confident,” Forest Grove senior midfielder Ivan Garcia said. “And then after that, that one goal that they tied us up ... we panicked. It just started spiraling down.”

After the game, Forest Grove coach Angelo Simonetti told his players that the match was his last as the Vikings’ head coach. He wants to spend more time with his family, he said. He watched his son Pedro, a senior goalkeeper at Tigard, play just six times over his high school career, and with a couple other children working their way toward high school, he wants to be more available for them.

The Vikings went 3-10-2 in Simonetti’s first year, 2011, and have gone 37-20-9 since, making the playoffs in each of those seasons and the state quarterfinals in 2012. They finished second in the Greater Valley Conference this year.

“Amazing kids. I’m not doubting they’re going to be a success in their own life,” Simonetti said. “They’re fantastic kids to coach and fantastic kids. It was just not (happening) tonight. The magic doesn’t happen every single night, so the show must go on.”