Bowmen score in OT for play-in victory
SHERWOOD — It certainly looked like the match was destined to be decided by penalty kicks.
The Sherwood High School boys soccer team certainly must of thought so.
After all, the Bowmen, battling in a 1-1 tie with McKay in the teams' Class 6A play-in match, had a shot hit the right post of the McKay goal near the end of regulation play, and then had another shot hit the crossbar of the Royal Scot goal in overtime.
Yep, penalty kicks seemed to be inevitable.
But Micah Murrell had other ideas.
Murrell, a junior forward for the Bowmen, scored with just 55.5 seconds left in the 20-minute overtime, giving Sherwood a 2-1 win over McKay in the postseason match played Tuesday at Sherwood High School.
"I was getting ready for penalty kicks, mentally," Murrell said with a smile after the match.
"That was fun," said Bowmen senior goalkeeper Jett Krieger, who made a number of key saves in the victory, especially in the first half. "The stakes were high, and it was really exciting."
McKay, the No. 7 team out of the Greater Valley Conference, and the No. 34 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished it season with a final overall record of 2-9-4.
Sherwood, the No. 5 team out of the Three Rivers League, and the No. 30 team in the power rankings, improved to 6-5-4 on the season with the win. The Bowmen also advance to play in the Class 6A state playoffs. They'll play at South Eugene in a first-round playoff match on Saturday, starting at 6 p.m.
"It's great. It's amazing," Krieger said.
"It's good to carry this momentum forward," Murrell said. "We have potential."
"We didn't stop believing," said Sherwood senior Leonardo Simoes Del Buono, who scored the first goal of Tuesday's play-in match. "This shows all of our hard practices have paid off."
Del Buono gave the Bowmen a quick lead in Tuesday's contest, as he scored on a shot from 25 yards away on the right side, with the ball bending into the upper left corner of the McKay goal, giving Sherwood a 1-0 lead with 36 minutes and 32 seconds left to play in the first half.
The Royal Scots immediately put the pressure on the Bowmen defense, trying to get an equalizer. But the Sherwood defense, including junior Caden Brandt, senior Brennan Agranoff, senior Avery Hanlon and senior Danny Dhas, was up to the task.
McKay did get seven contested shots on goal in the first half, but Krieger made saves on all of those shots.
"After working for four years with the varsity, it's come natural," Krieger said of the saves. "And our defense was playing great."
Sherwood got shots from senior Christian Martinez, senior Jonathan Alvarado and Dhas later in the first half, but the Bowmen couldn't up their lead, and took their 1-0 advantage to halftime.
McKay came back to tie the match, at 1-1, when freshman Angel Altamirano scored on a running shot from 10 yards away on the left side, with the ball barely eluding a diving Krieger, coming with 35:30 left to play in the second half.
The Bowmen seemed to turn up their intensity as they tried to regain the lead in regulation play. Dhas had a free kick attempt from 23 yards away stopped by diving McKay goalkeeper Richardo Espinoza with 26:18 left in the second half. Just over a minute later, Krieger came running out to make a sliding block of an open shot by Altamirano.
Then, with just 3:05 remaining, Sherwood senior Garrett Hite had a running, close-range shot from the right side hit the right post of the McKay goal. McKay senior Raul Marquez then headed away a corner kick by Alvarado in the final minute, keeping the teams tied at 1-1, sending the match to overtime.
With 4:30 remaining in the first of two 10-minute overtime sessions, Alvarado's shot from 35 yards away hit the bottom of the crossbar of the McKay goal, but but the ball didn't go over the goal line.
Then, with 1:15 left in the first OT session, Murrell had a shot ricochet past the McKay keeper, but McKay sophomore Angel Nunes was able clear the ball way before it went over the line.
There were then no prime scoring opportunities throughout most of the second OT session, and, with time winding down, it looked like the match was destined for penalty kicks.
But, with just 55.5 seconds remaining, Murrell's tap shot from 15 yards away scooted past the McKay keeper and into the net, giving the Bowmen a 1-0 lead.
"I just saw the ball come over a mass of people," Murrell said of the scoring play. "And I was able to hit it. It wasn't an amazing shot, but it went in. It didn't even seem real, but it felt really good."
"It saved us," Del Buono said.
McKay wasn't able to get a shot off in the final minute, leaving Sherwood with the win, and a berth in the state playoffs.
South Eugene, the Southwest Conference champion, and the No. 4 team in the power rankings, brings an overall record of 11-2-1 into Saturday's state playoff opener.
Sherwood, if it is able to get a win at South Eugene on Saturday, will play at either North Medford of Forest Grove in a second-round state-playoff match on Wednesday.