Aloha boys get win in penalty-kick thriller
TIGARD — It can be a game of inches.
It can be a game of seconds.
And, when the Aloha and Tigard high school boys soccer teams faced off in postseason action, it can also be a roller-coaster ride of excitement.
In a back-and-forth battle, where a few inches, or a few seconds, seemed to make a difference more than once, the Warriors came away with a 3-2 win (4-2 in a penalty-kick shootout) in a Class 6A state playoff second-round match played Nov. 1 at Tigard High School.
Aloha, the No. 4 team out of the Metro League, improved to 7-7-2 on the season, to that point, with the victory. The Warriors also moved on to play in Saturday's quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where they lost 3-2 at South Eugene.
Tigard, the No. 2 team out of the Three Rivers League, finished its season with a final overall record of 8-3-4.
Aloha was able to strike first in last week's playoff match. The Warriors took a 1-0 lead when senior forward Ismail Vara headed in a shot from eight yards away, off a pinpoint cross from the right side by senior Omar Bernal, coming with 25 minutes and 56 seconds left to play in the first half.
Tigard tried to battle back the rest of the first half. Senior Miguel Vergara's free kick attempt, from 40 yards away, was saved by Aloha junior goalkeeper Albino Ruiz. Then, less than a minute later, Vergara's free-kick shot from 25 yards out, hit the bottom of the crossbar of the Aloha goal. Tigard junior Aaron Padarath's follow-up attempt was then cleared away by the Warrior defense.
Aloha had the final prime scoring opportunity of the first half, coming on a shot by Bernal from 25 yards out. But his attempt, coming with 3:20 left in the half, was tipped over the crossbar of the Tiger goal by Tigard sophomore goalkeeper Jackson Cleaver.
The Tigers kept up the intensity in the second half, as they tried to get the equalizer. But the Warrior defense, getting a key clear by sophomore Genaro Expita Jr., coming in front of an open Aloha goal with 14:45 left in the match, was able to fight off those Tigard attempts.
But the home team wouldn't be denied. With just 5:42 left in the match, Padarath scored on a header goal, coming off a cross by senior Ochoa-Navarro from the left side, tying the match at 1-1.
Both teams had shots in the final minute, but they were either off the mark, or saved, sending the contest to a 20-minute overtime.
Aloha regained the lead with 2:41 remaining in the first of two overtime sessions, when junior Cesar Becerra scored on a close-range header shot after an attempt by senior Ethan Hall, from 30 yards away on the right side, was deflected up into the air. The goal gave the Warriors a 2-1 advantage that they would take into the second 10-minute overtime session.
And, as time was ticking away in the second OT period, it looked like Aloha would soon be celebrating a victory. That looked to be more apparent as the match entered the final 30 seconds.
But, wait, not so fast. The Tigers weren't about to concede anything.
With just 19 seconds left in overtime, Tigard tied the score again, at 2-2, when sophomore Jared Debban scored from five yards out off a long free-kick pass from Vergara.
Neither team scored in the final seconds, sending the contest to a penalty-kick shootout.
Aloha, going first, opened the shootout with successful attempt by Bernal. Tigard's first attempt in the shootout barely hit the bottom of the crossbar, and didn't go into the goal, leaving the Warriors with a 1-0 lead after one round. Aloha's second attempt, taken by Becerra, was deflected by a diving Cleaver, but it still went into the goal, giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead.
Tigard countered with a successful try by Vergara, who drilled his shot into the left side of the Warrior goal.
The third round of the shootout saw Aloha get a successful try by Expita Jr., while Tigard's try sailed wide right, giving the Warriors a 3-1 lead.
Aloha misfired in the fourth round, and Tigard got a successful try by sophomore Trevor Smith, cutting the Warrior lead to 3-2.
But, in the fifth round, with the victory on the line, Aloha got a successful try by junior Ohm Harape, giving the Warriors a 4-2 victory in the shootout, and the match.
The loss marked the final high school match for Tigard seniors Ochoa-Navarro, Thomas Forsythe, Vergara, Gusravo Sanchez and Mohamed Shams.