Forest Grove advances to state semifinals with overtime win over Centennial
After one-goal games in both their first and second round matches, the Forest Grove Vikings boys soccer team took it a step further in their quarterfinal match with Centennial — they went to overtime.
The Viks — thanks in large part to Alejandro Sanchez who scored the game-winning goal in the first of two overtime periods — defeated the Eagles 2-1 on a cool and wet Saturday afternoon, Nov. 9, at Forest Grove High School.
With the win, Forest Grove advanced to Tuesday night's state semifinal against Summit of Bend, who defeated defending champion Jesuit that same afternoon.
Vikings head coach Gracey Mosquera didn't seem to care who they played, but was more interested in celebrating and appreciating what his team accomplished.
"I'll start thinking about Jesuit or Summit from now on," he said. "Right now I just want to congratulate the kids. I'm very happy for them and for the community, and hopefully we can continue to move on."
Sanchez, who's nicknamed Pollo (chicken in Spanish) for having unusually skinny legs as a kid, left no doubt on what would amount to the game-winning goal, absolutely stinging a free kick from 25 yards, around the wall, past a helpless goal keeper, and into the back of the net, setting-off a wild celebration by the raucous home crowd.
"I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity there," Sanchez said. "Yesterday I came out here before practice and worked on it a little bit because I wasn't hitting them how I usually do, so I practiced them a little bit and luckily it just went in the back of the net."
Coach Mosquera wasn't surprised.
"He has been taking them all season and he has a good foot," Mosquera said. "If he can continue to perfect that, he will always be a threat on free kicks."
Centennial head coach Todd Saks, while disappointed with the loss, wasn't disappointed with his kids or their performance, showing nothing but pride and admiration for his team in defeat.
"We've played great soccer all year," said the coach. "We had a hiccup early, but got it going as the season went on, so to me it was a matter of the guys understanding how we wanted to play and they did.
"I'm immensely proud of these guys. I don't want to say we overachieved because we feel like we belonged here, so my pride is in how they go about playing and the quality that they play."
Forest Grove dominated early and drew first blood when sophomore Ben Bradshaw netted somewhat of a surprising goal when he let one fly from 35 yards out on the left side. It appeared at first to simply be a clear, but as the ball flew ever-closer to the net, Centennial goalie Dennis Bessarab misjudged it and watched it sail just over his outstretched hands, leading to a 1-0 Vikings lead.
"I saw it floating in the air and thought, 'that could go in," he said. "Then I saw their goalie looking at it and I thought, 'that really could go in,' then it went in and I was hyped. It was amazing to celebrate the goal with the teammates and then at the end celebrate the win."
Which came later because there was no quit in this Eagles team. After being dominated over the first 20 minutes, it was Centennial that owned the second 20, scoring on an Andrew Martinez rebound to tie the game, then taking what appeared to be a 2-1 lead before a second Eagles goal was taken off the board as the result of — at least by Saks' account — a questionable offsides call in the 32nd minute.
"At times we can be slow starters and we started slow and they got the best of us early, but we woke up and started playing the way we played all season," Saks said. "And as far as that goal, I thought that wasn't offsides, which would've been huge going into halftime 2-1."
Nonetheless, it remained tied, where it would stay as the two teams figuratively — and to an extent literally — duked it out over the second half's 40 minutes. In a game that featured more than 40 fouls, things got chippy throughout the second half and even resulted in two warnings to the crowd for unruly behavior. Yet, the game continued without incident until Sanchez changed things for good in overtime.
"They're a quality team and I thought it was a good battle," Saks said. "They scored first then they dropped off, we tied it and it was just a battle in that second half that just didn't go our way."
Strangely, the win was the third straight for the Vikings against a Mt. Hood Conference opponent after beating David Douglas in the first round, Central Catholic in the second, now Centennial in the quarterfinals. Mosquera had nothing but respect for the Eagles afterwards, but felt this day belonged to his team who has now reached the state semifinals for the second straight year.
"You can see Centennial is a really good team," he said. "They move the ball well, get second balls, and are a very quality team, but in the first game (against Centennial) we lost on PKs, while this time it was a battle and we just needed to get the ball in the middle. And we did and capitalized."
Forest Grove's game against Summit will be played at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Forest Grove High School.
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