Oregon City boys tie another heavyweight, match West Linn 2-2
Things could not have started any worse for the Oregon City boys soccer team on Thursday.
The Pioneers, facing West Linn in the annual Battle for the Bridge at West Linn High School, gave up an own goal less than three minutes into the contest and still trailed by one score at the half.
But things turned out a heck of a lot better than that, with Oregon City generating two second-half goals and eventually settling for a 2-2 tie against the Three Rivers League-leading Lions.
"We came out here, we showed ourselves and we did our best," said Oregon City senior midfielder and team captain Anthony Bautista-Carrera. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the win. We were so close, but we got the tie and we're happy we're going to go home with the tie."
"I thought it was great," added Pioneer sophomore midfielder Chris Lane, who scored his team's second goal with 13 minutes, 53 seconds left to play. "We didn't get the season off to the start that we wanted to, but I think we're turning it around now and we're heading in the right direction."
With the tie — the team's second straight against a highly-ranked opponent, the Pioneers moved to 0-0-2 in league and 0-8-2 overall. West Linn, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 1-0-1 in TRL play and 6-1-3 overall.
"We've been working a lot for our defense and a lot of our focus needs to shift to our attacking third, trying to put in the shots, trying to finish it off," said West Linn senior defender Adam Beyer. "We've just come up short on a lot of those and it's getting close. Some of them are lucky and the goal they got back on us was lucky."
"We knew that they were going to be a pretty direct team so our goal was to just try to play it around them," added West Linn freshman midfielder Luke Tinsley, who got the game-tying goal with just 6:46 left to play. "But obviously, the first 60 minutes, we weren't working together and we couldn't get on the same page with each other."
The Lions pushed ahead early when they played a long ball up the right seam to junior Kyle Gregg. He chipped it over Oregon City sophomore goalkeeper Josepher Juarez-Cruz, but when Pioneer senior midfielder Brandon Bautista tried to clear the ball, he knocked it into his team's own goal just 2:15 into the contest.
While neither team scored again in the first half, it wasn't for lack of opportunity. For Oregon City, the Pioneers' best scoring chance came with six minutes remaining in the half when junior midfielder Lorenzo Lopez passed to Bautista-Carrera near the top of the Lions' penalty box, got a return pass from Bautista-Carrera but saw his shot stopped by West Linn senior keeper Cole Goodheart.
For West Linn, the Lions' best opportunity to expand their lead came in the final minute of the opening half when senior defender Garrett Jackson took a long pass on the right side and looped the ball over Juarez-Cruz before the shot was knocked away at the last second by a Pioneer defender.
Undaunted, Oregon City tied the game just 4:15 into the second half when junior midfielder Manny Diaz corralled a pass in the center of the field, took one touch to get past the Lion defense, then blasted a 26-yard shot that tied the game at 1-1.
The two teams traded shots and shared possession over the next 20 minutes before the Pioneers got the go-ahead goal with 13:53 remaining in the contest. There, following an Oregon City throw-in deep on the West Linn end of the field, the Lions tried to clear the ball at the right post only to see their kick ricochet hard off Lane's knee and into the Lions' goal at the right post for a 2-1 Pioneer lead.
"It was pretty lucky, honestly," Lane said of his first goal of the season. "I was in the right position, I guess."
Instead of being demoralized by the goal, however, the Lions seemed energized. They got a dangerous shot on goal from senior Abdul Ali, and then, following a Pioneer foul, saw Ali send his free kick to senior forward Gavin Tinsley for a hard shot that Juarez-Cruz stopped at the left post with 11 minutes remaining.
West Linn kept pushing, though, and sent a shot into the Pioneers' penalty box that rebounded out to Luke Tinsley and he hammered it home at the left post to forge the night's 2-2 tie.
"I was just waiting for it to come out and I just went with my instinct and just tried to smash it," Tinsley said.