Brendan Yu
Curry Coastal Pilot

After avenging last year’s semi-final loss to Madras, the Brookings-Harbor boys soccer team looked on track to rectifying last year’s shortcomings in the OSAA 4A playoffs.

For the No. 4 Bruins (13-1-2, 9-0-1), the next stop of their redemption tour was making it out of the semi-finals and punching their ticket to the state championship game.

Those plans however, came to a premature end at the hands of the defending champions and ninth-seeded Newport Cubs (14-3-1, 7-2-1), who defeated the Bruins 2-1 after penalty kicks at Elmer Bankus Field Tuesday night.

In the penalty shootout, the Cubs outscored the Bruins 3-1 off of well-placed shots by seniors Drew Torres, Romario Mendoza and junior Jose Gonzalez. Senior co-captain Izaiha Bruce was the lone Bruin to score.

“We battled back and forth and had our opportunities that we should’ve got in there; it was the same with them though, and it was a very equal game for sure,” said head coach Jess Beaman. “They had us on our heels; we had them on their heels. They’re a very well coached team and they moved the ball very well and they had a set plan they do every time. For sure they’re more experienced in penalty kicks, they had them last year in the 4A championship, so they’re (familiar with) the pressure.”

The loss snaps the Bruin’s 16 game undefeated streak as well as their five game shutout streak.

While the Bruins were accustomed to putting opponents on the backfoot and bombarding them with shots, that script was flipped against the Cubs, who showed their upset of No. 1 Seaside in the quarterfinals was no fluke as they totaled 21 total shots while limiting the Bruins to a season low six attempts.

Spurred by their rallying cry of “Show no fear!”, the Cubs asserted themselves physically throughout the game, but that was not without its drawbacks as seniors Fernando Rodas-Hernandez and Ricardo Gonzalez-Vazquez were both issued yellow cards.

“They pressured and they’re big and strong; they’re a lot thicker than we are,” Beaman said. “The big difference from here is when they play from where they’re at, they get to play physical the whole time, and with our league, if you bump and grind a little bit, they call fouls every two minutes.

“When we get referees that come from out of the area, it’s a little more physical, you can tell that’s a real soccer game right there. In our league, you can’t get that physical, you can’t grab, you can’t push, you can’t do all that stuff. That’s the difference.”

Newport wasted no time pressuring the Bruins and setting up a number of scoring opportunities from the opening whistle. It wasn’t until the 5th minute that Brookings-Harbor made any meaningful strides towards Newport’s side of the field, but that was just one of a few momentary respites for the Bruin defense throughout the game.

In the the 42nd minute, the Cubs finally struck paydirt after converting a cross from inside the goal area to take a 1-0 lead.

Perhaps galvanized by the threat of their season coming to an end, the Bruin offense responded with a markedly improved effort in the second half and penetrated the Cub’s penalty area on several occasions.

The Bruin’s efforts eventually paid off when senior co-captain Sam Broberg drew a foul inside the penalty area in the 56th minute. Junior Luke Beaman, the team’s scoring and assist leader, converted the ensuing penalty kick to even the score.

Both teams remained scoreless throughout the rest of regulation as well as the 20 minute overtime that followed. Brookings-Harbor had an opportunity in the 98th minute when Beaman shook off two Cub defenders inside the goal area for a one-on-one opportunity against senior goalkeeper Luis Reyes, but the shot was cleared to send the game into the penalty shootout.

Newport went first in the penalty kicks, but neither team scored in the first round. Torres found the back of the net in the second to put the Cubs up 1-0, but Bruce reset the score after calmly burying a shot in the upper left of the goal. Brookings-Harbor was denied by Reyes in the third and fourth rounds, and with a 2-1 lead in the fifth round, Newport clinched its ticket back into the state championship when Gonzalez’s shot found the back of the net.

Although the Bruins’ championship aspirations have once again come to an end in the semifinals, they leave behind several notable milestones, such as being the first Bruin team to host a semifinals as well as the first team since 2013 to go undefeated in the regular season.

“I feel we played great,” said senior forward Ryan Botnen. “I feel this year, unlike every year of high school soccer that I played, I feel like we came together like a family. We always kept each other high, we always supported each other, and we never got each other down.

“We spent it like a family.”