Jaguars thriving on drama
Century needs double overtime to get past Reynolds and penalty kicks to upend No. 6 North Medford
It seems the Century boys soccer team has a flair for the dramatic.
After beating Reynolds 2-1 in double overtime on Saturday in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs, the Jaguars followed it up with a thrilling 3-2, penalty-shootout victory over North Medford on Tuesday in round two.
We like to play a little extra time, Century head coach Steve Corey joked. We dont like to get things done in regulation.
The two harrowing victories sent Century (9-4-2) into the state quarterfinals, where the Jags will square off against third-ranked West Linn (13-1-2), the regular-season Three Rivers League champion.
That game is set for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday at West Linn High School.
Centurys journey to the Elite Eight didnt come without its share of anxious moments, starting with last Saturdays match, when the Jaguars needed almost every minute of two overtime periods to get past pesky Reynolds (6-7-2), the 22nd-ranked team in the state.
Both sides scored in the first half, but it was a stalemate from there, with no goals scored in the second half or the first overtime period. It looked as if the game was destined for penalty kicks until Obed Ramirez Covarrubias came to the rescue, heading in the game-winning goal off a set piece with four minutes left in the second overtime period.
I think we came out a little too confident against Reynolds, Corey said. I think we expected that to be an easier match and it wasnt. But we learned our lesson and came out more focused in the next one.
Playing on the road against sixth-ranked North Medford (12-2-2), the Jaguars built a 2-1 second-half lead on a pair of goals from Omar Alcazar Polvos.
He was just in the right place at the right time, Corey said. They werent the prettiest goals, but that doesnt matter. Everybody always wants to score the pretty goals, but you just need to be somewhere and put the ball in the back of the net. Thats all that matters.
With Alcazar Polvos second strike providing the cushion and precious minutes ticking off the clock, it seemed as if the Jaguars were all but assured of the upset victory. But with 15 seconds left in regulation, Century goalkeeper Quinn Marshall slipped on the grass turf at North Medford High School while chasing down a throw-in, allowing the Black Tornado to equalize in stunning fashion.
It was just a fluke thing, Corey said. We were playing on grass and most high school fields now are (artificial) turf, but thats no excuse. He just went out on a ball and slipped. It was very unlucky.
The kids were down a little bit, but probably more mad than anything.
While the late goal was an admittedly unlucky break for Century, it quickly turned unlucky for North Medford as well. Louis Michelon, who slotted home the equalizer, tore off his jersey in a post-goal celebration with teammates, earning the senior his second yellow card of the match and an automatic ejection.
Unfortunately the Jaguars couldnt capitalize on the man advantage, and the match went to penalty kicks when 100 minutes of soccer ended in a 2-2 deadlock.
In the ultimate act of redemption, it was Marshall who provided the heroics in the shootout. The senior goalkeeper made two tremendous saves to deny North Medford, while Century went 4-for-4 in its spot kick opportunities Gilberto Arreola Lopez, William Perez Rodriguez and Oscar Guzman all converted, then Carlos Hernandez-Morfin ended the match when his kick riccocheted off the hands of North Medford keeper Eric Benitez and bounced across the goal line.
Of Marshalls performance in the shootout, Corey said: Hes got such great character and leadership. He really wanted to step up for his team. Those two saves made it very challenging for (North Medford) to come out on top.
And now its on to Saturdays quarterfinal match against West Linn, the same team that eliminated Century from playoff contention last year.
We played them last year in a play-in game and they won, and theyre a lot stronger this year, Corey said.
Asked whether the momentum from two close wins could carry the Jaguars to another playoff upset, Corey was cautiously optimistic.
We sure hope so, he said. It can follow through, but you never know from one match to another. It does boost your confidence level, but its a matter of keeping it under control.
Right now weve got one more game and hopefully we can get through.