Century scores three second-half goals to upend Hilhi in Pacific Conference action

It was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves.

Both sides of that coin certainly held true in Tuesday’s rivalry game between the Hillsboro and Century boys soccer squads. In the Pacific Conference opener for both sides, Hilhi jumped out to a 2-0 first-half advantage, but the Jaguars rode the outstanding play of Omar Alcazar Polvos — who notched the game-winner in the 78th minute — to a supreme second half and a 3-2 comeback victory at Hillsboro Stadium.

The win lifted Century to a 5-1-1 overall record, a tie for first in the early conference standings and a seventh-place spot in the OSAA Class 6A power rankings. Hilhi (5-2, 0-1), which had been scored on only twice in its first six matches, dropped its second consecutive HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Century's William Perez Rodriguez (2) and Hillsboro's Abran Serrano Garcia (15) converge on a loose ball during Tuesday's boys soccer match.

“It gives us some confidence, but we have to be humble, because Hillsboro’s a really first-class team,” Century coach Steve Corey said. “Now, we just have to take one game at a time and not get over-confident. That’s going to be the key.”

As the match started to ebb, a 2-2 draw appeared a real possibility, but then the Jaguars snatched victory from the jaws of possible defeat. With about three minutes remaining, Hilhi earned a prime opportunity to retake the lead when the Spartans drew a free kick just outside the Jaguars’ penalty area. Tyler Hoiem — who scored Hilhi’s second goal — played the ball, but he could not test Century goalkeeper Quinn Marshall with a shot on frame, instead sending the ball off the Jaguar wall of defenders.

And then Century made its move. The visitors won control of the ball and quickly played it down the left side of the field. Alcazar Polvos snatched the ball from a Spartans defender and beat Hilhi goalkeeper Phoenix Baltrus for the second time in the contest, this time from in the middle of the penalty area, giving Century its first lead with just 2:39 to play.

“It feels good to beat one of the best teams in the conference right now,” Alcazar Polvos said.

Before that, at least early on, the game seemed destined to go the Spartans’ way.

The match was moved from Hilhi to the Hillsboro Stadium turf field to avoid damage to the school’s grass field after all of the recent rain, but the Spartans didn’t seem to mind the change of surface early on. They immediately seized the lead when, in the first minute of the match, Abran Serrano Garcia took a deflected ball and played it past Marshall.

The good start continued for Hilhi in the 22nd minute, when Serrano Garcia linked up with Hoiem, who finished a tap-in to double the Spartans’ lead.

After that, though, it was all Century.

“High school soccer is all about playing hard until the last whistle — it really is, because teams aren’t necessarily skilled the entire way through,” noted Marshall, who recently gave a verbal commitment to Gonzaga. “So you’re going to have chances, and you gotta put those away.”

During the early minutes of the second half, both teams seemed a bit lackadaisical, but then the Jaguars started turning up the pressure, thanks in large part to Alacazar Polvos. The striker did not play in the first half after needing to attend to a family emergency and arriving late to the field, but he made his presence known quickly.

Century pulled a goal back in the 48th minute with some beautiful combination play. Gilberto Arreola Lopez sent a ball out of the midfield that freed Crystyan Lorenzo down the ride side. Lorenzo then fired a cross into the penalty area, and a sliding Alacazar Polvos slotted the ball past Baltrus from about three yards out.

Both teams proceeded to threaten each other’s goal a couple of times, but it was the Jaguars who struck again, this time in the 58th minute. Alcazar Polvos did not do the honors, but he did set up the opportunity by drawing a foul just inside the Hilhi penalty area. Arreola Lopez took the shot from 12 yards out, placing it just under the crossbar and just above Baltrus’ extended right arm for the equalizer.

And that was how the game remained until Alcazar Polvos’ heroics.

“Between these two teams, it is really all out. It’s a pride thing,” Marshall said. “(Hilhi) can win conference, but I believe that we can, too. We’ve got a special team this year.”

On Thursday, Hilhi traveled to Tualatin and Century hosted Tigard at the 53rd Avenue Soccer Complex (results not available at press deadline). The Spartans are slated to play their third game of the week on Saturday in a rescheduled nonconference contest against Sherwood.

“We just have to go back to work. I still think we’re one of the better teams in this league and in the state,” Hilhi coach Tim Ellsworth said. “We just have to focus on ourselves and quit looking around us and take responsibility and work ourselves out of it.”

Both teams will resume Pacific Conference play next Tuesday, when Hilhi hosts Glencoe and Century travels to Forest Grove.

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