With a loss at home to North Bend early in the season, and a historical win in the Bulldogs' house in the second regular-season match up, the Bruins knew they would have to battle on Saturday to claim victory and first place in the Far West League.
The battle ended in favor of the North Bend Bulldogs, 1-3, but it gave the Bruins one last opportunity to fine tune their game before they headed into the OSAA playoffs.
"This was a tough loss because we really wanted the Far West League," senior captain Luis Rodriguez said. "We can't let this bring us down. We have to pick up our heads and start from zero. We'll work on our skills, work on passing and communication most of all."
The Brookings-Harbor High School boys soccer team scored andndash; late in the opening half andndash; to draw first blood.
A pushing call around the 18-meter line brought Rodriguez to the ball for a direct kick.
As he booted the ball andndash; trying to loft it over the wall of defenders just 10 meters away andndash; he hoped his teammates could redirect it into the goal.
Instead, he hit the bottom of the crossbar and scored. The shot infused the Bruins with a vigor that only a goal can give and they finished the first half strong.
The Bruins andndash; typically a second-half team andndash; came out after the break looking to maintain their lead, controlled the ball and forced the Bulldogs' goalie to practice stopping shots on goal, but a red card shortly after the half began changed the momentum.
Nels Johnson was inside the Bruins' 18-meter box when his hand contacted a ball on its way to the goal and the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty kick (PK).
Johnson was given a red card and dismissed from the pitch and the Bruins were forced to play with 10 instead of 11.
"The ref could have called it either way," Head Coach Gabriel Anaya explained. "He could have just let the goal stand because it went in andndash; that's what the North Bend coaches were asking for andndash; or he could assess the red card and give the penalty. It really hurts us because it means we won't have Nels for the next game."
Forced to increase the defensive intensity with just 10 players, David Daniels bumped a North Bend player to the ground in the box and the Bulldogs were awarded another PK.
Goalie Alex Garibay chose correctly as he dove to his left to stop the shot, but the kicker had placed his shot well and it squirted past Garibay's outstretched hands and into the net.
The second goal seemed to nick the carotid artery in the Bruins and, as the lifeblood drained out of them, they allowed a third andndash; and last andndash; North Bend goal.
It wasn't just the scoring by North Bend, though, that caused BHHS problems andndash; a number of yellow cards caused Anaya to pull star players Cole Hannan and Fernando Villa to avoid second yellows and possible reds.
"I couldn't afford to lose any more players for the playoffs," Anaya said. "Red cards carry over to the next game. We're not going to have Nels and I couldn't miss anyone else."
With the tie-breaker loss, the Bruins take second place in the FWL and will host a team in a round-of-24 play-in game.