A second-half uprising against Chehalis has kept Aberdeen’s state playoff hopes intact.
After a quiet first half, the Bobcats got a fortuitous goal early in the second half and a flurry of goals late to stay alive in the District IV 2A boys soccer tournament with a 5-0 victory over the Bearcats at Stewart Field.
On Thursday, Aberdeen (9-7) will stay home to greet Evergreen 2A rival North Thurston in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest at Stewart Field.
“For a long time, we struggled; we had good shots, but just couldn’t get that last touch,” AHS head coach Larry Fleming said. “We started getting pressure with good combinations (in the second half). We will have to do better with our chances (on Thursday). “
The entire first half was filled with missed opportunities. Aberdeen, which defeated Chehalis, 5-0 and 1-0, during the regular season, found ways around Chehalis’ defense, but couldn’t get that last step for the shot on-goal.
The Bearcats threatened on set pieces, including a corner kick early on that needed two Bobcat defenders diving to clear the ball, but were sent away.
All of that changed after halftime with the Evergreen 2A’s leading scorer, Juanito Lopez, in the mix. With his back to the goal, Lopez turned and fired a speculative 35-yard shot that bounced several times before getting to Chehalis goalkeeper Skyler Lucas.
Lucas didn’t make a play on the ball, which somehow bounced inside the left post for the opening goal in the 44th minute.
In the 65th minute, Lopez had another chance on goal, but his 10-yard shot hit the same left post as earlier in the night. The rebound went wide, which he gathered in and set back in front of the goal to a waiting Kyle Liscombe, who poked the ball past Lucas for a 2-0 lead.
Aberdeen kept control of the match from there, but put the final touches on the victory in the final five minutes. Lopez ran down a long goal kick from goalkeeper Jose Tinoco and slipped the ball past Lucas for a 3-0 lead in the 76th minute.
One minute later, Lopez played another long ball and poked it in for his hat trick. Not even 30 seconds later, senior Alcy Caluamba made it 5-0 with a weaving run and shot through the Bearcat defense to finish the scoring.
“Sometimes in soccer, once you have that momentum, the goals start to come,” Fleming added. “We just kept plugging away and it was frustrating, because we let them stay in the game.”