The first mistake proved to be a momentum builder. The second Toledo-Winlock mistake sent Hoquiam to the state tournament.
Taking on a Toledo-Winlock squad that was experiencing its first postseason match since 2005, the Grizzlies started quickly, sealed an insurmountable lead before halftime and fought through for a 3-1 District IV 1A match victory at Stewart Field.
The victory for the Grizzlies (14-3) locks in a state tournament berth and a spot into Thursday’s district seeding match against Seton Catholic at Kalama. Game time is 5 p.m. The winner gets the No. 3 seed, the loser the No. 4 seed and both teams will be on the road for the opening round of the state tourney.
“We got the job done; we have 13 seniors and we wanted to send these guys out and finish in a state game, not a district game,” HHS head coach Fidel Sanchez said. “The scouting we did was to not let them hang around. They showed a lot of fight in (the Trico League). We told the guys, we needed to score quick. We have to finish. Fortunately, we got the second goal and Molina did what he does best up top.”
Senior forward Jonathan Molina, who started in the back line to shake up the lineup, scored twice to put his single-season scoring mark at 46 goals. Senior midfielder Mario Joya, however, scored the game-winner just before the stroke of halftime.
United’s Adair Garibay notched the visitor’s lone marker, giving a little bit of drama to the proceedings.
Both teams came out firing, testing each other’s defenses to make a mistake. In the 15th minute, Toledo-Winlock blinked and Hoquiam pounced.
United goalkeeper John Buck took two steps out of the penalty area to deliver a drop kick and was caught. Hoquiam was rewarded an indirect free kick, with Molina and Austin Montoure hovering over the ball.
Montoure touched the ball to allow Molina to shoot on goal from 22 yards out and the senior hit the upper right corner for the goal.
“It was really, really important (for the first goal), because we need that to get our heads into the game,” Molina said. “They’re a really good team, gave us a good battle. It was hard at first, but once we got the second goal, we tried harder. United battled back, but we did our part and battled.”
Hoquiam continued to pressure United’s goal. Buck made solid saves against Joya, Molina, Osiel Rivers and Montoure to keep the score at 1-0. Buck’s efforts paid off in the 31st minute.
Following a save on Montoure, Buck cleared the ball deep and Jacob Andrews sent a long through ball to Garibay, who slid the ball past HHS goalkeeper Jamie Bigbie for a 1-1 tie.
Joya nearly got the lead back minutes after Garibay’s marker, striking the post hard enough to drive a nail through it with the ball. However, he got his goal in the middle of a rugby scrum in front of the goal.
With just over one minute left in the first half, a loose ball in front of the United goal was not cleared by the defenders. With five players fighting for the ball, Joya got his foot onto it to poke it into the low left corner.
“This is a game of mistakes — our keeper stepped out and they made us pay,” Toledo-Winlock head coach Horst Malunat said. “We saw this team on film and (Hoquiam) has weapons. We just can’t give them opportunities and they scored. That set the tone. We battled back, but giving up that one goal was tough right before half. I’m happy with the team. They made it a game, fought hard and we just ran out of time.”
After halftime, Hoquiam restarted its offensive pressure on Toledo-Winlock and got the final goal of the match in the 43rd minute.
At the end of a series of short passes, Israel Hernandez sent a header pass toward Molina that found him on the run. With space, the senior blasted the ball into the roof of the goal for the 3-1 score.
The majority of the second half was a physical affair as Toledo-Winlock searched for a goal to get close and Hoquiam fighting off the chances to create its own. In all, five yellow cards were issued in the match — three to Hoquiam and two to United.