By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
After 80 minutes of stalemate soccer, the Brookings-Harbor High School boys' soccer team scored in the first overtime period to lift them to a 1-0 win over the Marist Spartans in the second round of the state playoffs Tuesday.
With only two minutes left in the first of two ten-minute overtime periods, Linden Loren made a beautiful pass through the defense that found a cutting Mark Aguirre who was able to beat the Spartan goalie and give the Bruins a late 1-0 lead.
"It was just perfect passing on everyone's part," Aguirre said of the game winning goal. "We came out a little slow, but we realized near the end that if we wanted to play another game, we'd have to step up."
In the second overtime period, Marist pressed the action and had some of their best chances of the afternoon.
But goalie Gabe Anaya came up with countless key plays, making fives saves in the second overtime period alone.
With seven minutes left to play, Anaya made a clutch kick save and then forced the Spartans to shoot high and over the goal on the rebound.
"I was just helping out my team as much as I could," Anaya said. "We all worked really hard this year and all the guys deserve this win."
During the 80 minutes of regulation play, the Bruins forced the tempo for the majority of the game and kept the ball at the Spartans' end of the field.
"I thought we dominated the game," Coach Gabe Anaya said. "We didn't pass the ball as well as we normally do, but we were still able to keep control of the game."
In the first half, Loren, Aguirre, Kyle Botnen and Kevin Sthen all had solid shots on the Spartan goal.
Loren continued to aggravate the Marist defense in the second half as he got through the Spartan backline and just missed a pair of shots that went wide of the net and another that grazed the top of the crossbar.
"We knew that when we came out here, our intensity had to be way higher than any other game all season long," Aguirre said. "We knew what we needed to do and we were able to accomplish it."
With about four minutes left in regulation, Marist had one of their best scoring opportunities of the night as Steven Bustrin was able to avoid a sliding Anaya, but his shot went off the far post and the Bruins cleared the ball out of danger.
In the final minute of play, the Spartans were issued a free kick from about 25 yards out that would have been the game-winning goal.
But Anaya was able to read the play and got his hand on the ball as it deflected off the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.
On defense, the young Bruin backline played a phenomenal game and kept the Spartans from threatening for most of regulation.
Jose Munoz, Geoff Gowman, Jordan Weichers and Alan Freeman all hustled and played aggressive defense for the Bruins.
Gowman definitely had his biggest game of the year as he fought off attack after attack from the Spartans and was able to play the ball forward, helping start numerous runs toward the goal.
The pin-point passing Bruin midfield had their work cut out for them against a quick Spartan squad.
But Skyler Shuford, Juan Garcia and Botnen held their own for the Bruins and battled both on defense and offense.
Sthen and Anthony Babb played big roles for the Bruins as they filled in for co-captain Blake Peters, who played limited minutes because of an ongoing ankle injury.
With the win, the Bruins advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since the five-round playoff format was implemented in 1998.
In 1996, the Bruins reached the quarterfinals after a first round victory over the Delphian School.
"This win should boost our confidence really high," goalie Gabe Anaya said. "Having all of the fans support us for a big game like this was awesome."
The Brookings-Harbor community will have another chance to support their team as the Bruins will also be hosting their quarterfinal playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.
The Bruins will be playing the Hidden Valley Mustangs, who defeated the Central Panthers 2-1 Tuesday.
Tickets for the OSAA playoff game will be $4 for students and $6 for adults. Associated Student Body cards and staff passes will not be accepted.
Spectators are encouraged to park in the lot by the football field for the game because of the Christmas Bazaar also taking place at the high school