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After the game went to overtime tied 0-0, Diaz scored twice to propel the No. 7 Wildcats into the 6A state semifinals.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Westview senior JJ Diaz (10) scored both of his team's goals in a 2-0 overtime win over No. 2 Lakeridge in the quarterfinals of the OSAA 6A Boys Soccer State Championship tournament, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

In soccer, it doesn't always take much for momentum to swing your way.

After playing to a scoreless draw for the first 80 minutes, No. 7 Westview grabbed all the momentum in overtime and rode it to a 2-0 upset over No. 2 Lakeridge. Westview senior JJ Diaz scored both of his team's goals in the first overtime period, just minutes apart, as the Wildcats claimed the win at Lakeridge High School on Saturday night, Nov. 5.

"It's a good game, 0-0, and everybody's working their butt off," Diaz said after the match. "But we knew we had the match. We just came out and put our bodies on the line, and everybody knew the job and took care of it."

Diaz's first goal came five minutes into the first overtime period, and just moments after Matthew Maldonado of Lakeridge blasted a shot that Westview goalkeeper Andrew Kuculyn punched over the crossbar. Maldonado's shot was one of the best chances of the night for the Pacers, but on the ensuing corner kick, the Wildcats cleared, took possession and launched a counterattack that ended up in the back of the Lakeridge goal.

"I sprinted up the field, and I know what my teammates can do, they know what I can do, and we just executed well and read each other's minds," Diaz said of the run-up to that goal, which included some nifty passing between senior Sasha DeVassie and junior Juan Urdaneta before ultimately coming to rest on Diaz's foot.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Westview junior Juan Urdaneta (8) controls the ball in midfield while Lakeridge junior Spencer Lovell (9) marks from a distance during the teams' quarterfinal match on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

The second goal came two minutes later on the game clock, when Diaz struck a 32-yard free kick that sailed over the outstretched hands of Lakeridge goalie Chase Nelson. Diaz wouldn't say that he knew he was going to score, but he was going for goal the whole time.

"I knew that if (Nelson) was going to save, he was going to have to work really hard," Diaz said.

Neither team scored again after that, but that was all the Westview team needed to pull off the upset in enemy territory and advance to the state semifinals.

"That was fabulous," said Westview head coach Jon Fresh. "This is a team that has progressively improved, not only on the field, but with their overall attitude and their belief of themselves. After regulation, they believed they were going to win. They said, 'We've gone 80 minutes, we're at their house, let's take this field. This field belongs to us.'"

Fresh continued: "They just had this belief that it was going to happen, and they didn't stop. They were relentless."

It was a high-level match between two very good teams, one that became increasingly physical as the night wore on. There were yellow cards, scuffles and injury stoppages near the latter portion of the game, but the true highlight was the quality of soccer being played by two worthy adversaries.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Westview senior Sasha DeVassie (7) and Lakeridge senior Nicolas Wittig (3) chase down a loose ball during their teams' quarterfinal matchup on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

"We were in the final eight for a reason," Lakeridge head coach Alan Cox said. "Two good teams with a lot of good players, playing hard and putting everything on the line. The quality and work rate from both teams tonight was great."

Lakeridge senior captain Luke Yanello noted that the difference in the match came down to execution.

"Obviously, we're disappointed it didn't go our way," Yanello said. "I thought it was an evenly matched game. It's just a matter of converting your opportunities, and I think (Westview) did a good job of that. They had a few chances, and they converted them. We had about the same amount, and it just didn't go our way today."

The Pacers' offense was somewhat stunted as star senior forward Zac Levin played through an illness, but it should not take away from a fantastic season that saw the Pacers capture the Three Rivers League title and make it to overtime in the state quarterfinals.

"There's been a level of integrity throughout the entire year," Cox said of his team. "We've been playing soccer the right way, and we've been adjustable as the season has gone on. We're the highest goal-scorers in the state (at the 6A level) with 15 different scorers. That tells you the makeup of the group and the depth that we've got. Everyone contributed, whether you played 100 minutes or 10 minutes."

Cox added: "I couldn't be prouder of how hard they worked and what they did to get us to this point. We lost to a quality team. There's nothing wrong with that."

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Lakeridge senior Luke Yanello (8) connects on a header during his team's quarterfinal matchup against Westview in the OSAA 6A Boys Soccer State Championship tournament on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

As for Yanello, he will remember fondly all of the battles he went on with his teammates — and the bus rides that got them there.

"The most fun thing is going into battle with your teammates and having that experience," the senior said. "Looking back and enjoying the moments we had this year, it's got to be the bus rides. Especially coming back after a win, it was so enjoyable having all of us together and buzzing that we'd won."

As for the future, Cox noted that he will have plenty of experience back in the fold next year, with seven junior starters returning next season. There will be major holes to replace with the graduation of Levin and Nelson, as well as defenders Christian Waarvick and Nicolas Wittig, but Lakeridge should be right back in the thick of the title hunt next year.

Turning back to this year's tournament, the 6A bracket has been full of upsets thus far, with No. 11 Aloha and No. 12 Gresham also advancing to the final four along with Westview. As a result, the seventh-seeded Westview will host their playoff match against Aloha on Tuesday, Nov. 8, while Gresham travels to No. 1 Jesuit — the only top-four seed to survive this long — in the other semifinal on Tuesday.


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