Century's upset bid comes up short against No. 3 West Linn in the state quarterfinals

WEST LINN — As high school soccer postseason games often do, Century’s Class 6A state quarterfinal matchup against West Linn came down to a set HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Century's Omar Alcazar Polvos (7) races a West Linn defender to a loose ball during last Saturday's Class 6A state quarterfinal matchup.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they came up on the wrong end of the one that mattered most in Saturday’s match, and they came close but could not equalize. Searching for a second consecutive upset in the state playoffs, Century was instead forced to settle for a 1-0 defeat on the road against the No. 3-ranked Lions to conclude the season.

West Linn improved to 14-1-2 and moved on to a Tuesday night semifinal match at Jesuit, which it lost 2-0. Eleventh-ranked Century ended a historic season for the program at 9-3-4.

“It went to a set piece. We actually were the better team on the field, but if you can’t find the back of the net, you don’t win,” Century coach Steve Corey said. “And that’s the bottom line, is you’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net. It’s just unlucky. That’s just the way it was.”

On the decisive score, which came in the 37th minute, West Linn captain Ryan Barber sent a free kick from the left side of the field toward Century’s goal.

Blake Hepburn, who made a streaking run from his defensive position, found his way onto the diagonal ball, getting past Jaguars goalkeeper Quinn Marshall and slotting the ball inside the right post for the game-winner.

“It was one of those tough, neither-here-nor-there free kicks. It was low. It was outside of the six,” Marshall said about the scoring sequence. “I called away on it originally. It skipped and it came diagonally for the far post. I made a dive for it, it went over me and (Hepburn) was there uncontested.”

Over the course of the game, West Linn, the Three Rivers League champion, had other chances to put some shots away, but so did Century. In fact, the Jaguars got the game’s first good look at goal thanks to Omar Alcazar Polvos.

In the eighth minute, the dynamic junior forward slipped past his defender and found himself in a one-on-one situation with West Linn goalkeeper Zach Nelson near the top of the penalty area. Unfortunately for Century, Nelson came up big, making a kick save to deny Alcazar Polvos’ shot and keep the game scoreless.

In the second half, the teams traded scoring opportunities while the Jaguars tried to equalize. Eric Guzman perhaps came closest, as the freshman took a cross into the box and ripped a shot that glanced off the upper left corner of the goal frame to deny the visitors.

Century’s last great look came with about nine minutes remaining, when Gilberto Arreola Lopez drove to the left end line with the ball and sent a great cross past the face of the goal. But no player — Jaguar or Lion — could make a play on it.

“I think it was a really tough game,” said Arreola Lopez, a senior midfielder who transferred from Aloha in the spring. “We gave it all we had. We couldn’t do it at the end of the day, but I’m just proud of the team, how far we got.”

Pride in the team and the program was a familiar refrain at the end of the night. For a school that has been around since the fall of 1997, Century has had a pretty scant playoff history — until now.

The Jaguars had never advanced to the state playoffs until 2010. And in fact, Corey pointed out, they had never won a playoff game until this season.

This fall they won two, and both came in dramatic fashion. Century needed overtime to turn back a pesky Reynolds squad in the first round. In the second round, the Jaguars gave up a literal last-minute, game-tying goal to No. 6 North Medford, but Marshall came up big with a couple of stops in penalty kicks to help pull the road upset of the Black Tornado.

“I’m so proud of these guys. From tryouts ‘til now, it’s just amazing,” said Marshall, who was active all night long in the quarterfinals snuffing out West Linn chances.

“If we can take one thing from this game, the Century boys soccer team has a ton of heart. I couldn’t be more happy with those guys. We played good, just not good enough.”

Corey also summed it up well.

“It was a great season,” he said. “It’s just sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce where you want it to.”

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