Bobcats rally for key soccer win

CENTRALIA — One big win down, another to go for Aberdeen’s boys soccer team.

Juan Lopez scored twice in the final 20 minutes and the Bobcat defense did the rest in a critical 2-1 victory over Centralia in an Evergreen 2A Conference match Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

The victory assures the Bobcats (9-2, 11-2) at least a share of the conference title and guarantees that they’ll open district competition at home.

Still up for grabs is the league’s top-seeded berth. The Bobcats own a one-game lead over Capital, their opponent in their league finale Tuesday at Stewart Field. Aberdeen would clinch the undisputed Evergreen title with a victory. A Capital win, however, would give the top-seeded district berth to the Cougars by virtue of head-to-head play.

The Bobcats were in a defensive posture for much of the contest as the Tigers passed efficiently. Aberdeen coach Larry Fleming said the play of defenders Seth Caba, Titus Phillips, Sam Ruiz and Blake Liscombe was a key to the triumph.

“Just giving up one goal to Centralia is amazing, they usually score three or four,” Fleming said. “Overall, they got some shots and but we did a good job of clearing the ball out and transitioning.”

Centralia ace Prince Gunderson, often surrounded by three or four defenders, opened the scoring in the 52nd minute by blasting home about a 30-yard shot.

Lopez countered midway through the second half by taking a through ball from Juan Oropeza, faking out a defender and converting a one-on-one opportunity against the goalkeeper.

With 13 minutes remaining, Phillips cleared the ball out of the Aberdeen end. Lopez ran down the free ball, cut back to the middle of the field and hit a 20-yard shot.

The Bobcats were able to maintain that slim advantage to the end.

In addition to his defenders, Fleming cited the overall play of Lopez and Oropeza.

Centralia won the JV match, 3-2. Denis Calles and John Pellessier scored for Aberdeen.

Tuesday’s league finale will also be Senior Night at Stewart Field.