After 75 minutes of aesthetically pleasing soccer by both Aberdeen and Hockinson, one defensive breakdown allowed the Hawks to take flight to the district title game on Tuesday.
Emmanuel Gil cleaned up a loose ball inside the penalty area in the 75th minute to notch the first goal of the match, igniting a flurry of action and drama in the final five minutes of this 2-0 Hockinson victory over Aberdeen in the District IV 2A boys soccer semifinals at Stewart Field.
Gil and Mitchell Pinney scored goals for Hockinson, which will face Ridgefield in the district title game on Thursday at Ridgefield. Aberdeen (13-3) will take on Capital at 7 p.m. in a loser-out contest at Stewart Field on Thursday.
“(Hockinson) played well; we just made a couple of mistakes at the end that they took advantage of,” AHS head coach Larry Fleming said. “I felt like we were doing well, playing well, had a couple of really good chances. Hockinson was playing well, too, had some chances as well. In the second half, I thought we’d get one in.”
For the vast majority of this match, overtime and penalty kicks seemed like the inevitable method of separating these two teams. Until Gil followed up on a Pinney shot that got away from Bobcat goalkeeper Andres Valdes, that is.
The first goal of the match capped a three-shot series for the Hawks, but only one of them threatened Valdes — a long-range free kick by Pinney that Valdes easily caught. The goal, however, was a tough one to handle.
A through ball from Brett Sparks found Pinney a step ahead of Valdes, but Pinney’s shot went right into a diving Valdes. The ball got behind Valdes and Gil, on an overlapping run, gained control and beat defender Sam Ruiz, who was covering the goal for Valdes, for the marker.
The goal released a wave of happy emotion from Hockinson, almost like it just won the World Cup. Pinney made it 2-0 in the 79th minute that gave the visitors another reason to celebrate.
On a counter-attack, Pinney got clear of Aberdeen’s defense and blistered a shot past Valdes to secure the match. However, the Bobcats didn’t go down without a fight — or a penalty kick.
Senior forward Juanito Lopez, who was injured on a hard foul just outside of the penalty area in the 68th minute of the match, made another run to nearly the same spot on the field. This time, the Hawk foul garnered a yellow card for Hockinson’s Shawn Marion and penalty kick for Lopez.
On the spot kick, Lopez went low to his left and goalkeeper Casey Turner dove down to smother the shot for the save.
“Both goals were not played well by the defense, but the rest of the game, they and everyone played well,” Fleming said. “We limited them to a lot of long-range shots, which we can live with. You can’t ask for more. We had our chances.”
Lopez and Juan Oropeza each had shots that made Turner nervous — both players struck the post in the first half, while Lopez nearly beat Turner and two defenders on two runs, one each half — for Aberdeen. Defender Blake Liscombe, on a wing run, nearly scored on a point-blank shot in the 63rd minute.
Thursday’s match may see a different lineup for Aberdeen — Ruiz suffered a lower leg injury during the match and Lopez, who returned to action after the hard foul, was carried off the field with a leg injury at the end of the match. Both players’ status for Thursday is day-to-day.