Hoquiam survives a dogfight with Elma, 2-2 (4-2)

ELMA — The second of three Evergreen 1A meetings between Hoquiam and Elma was a decidedly closer affair than the first one — remarkably closer.

The Grizzlies, who opened the league season in March with a 6-0 victory at home, found themselves in a dogfight with the Eagles, who rallied from two deficits to force overtime and a penalty-kick shootout. The spot-kick tiebreaker went Hoquiam’s way, giving the league leaders a 2-2 (4-2) victory at Davis Field in Elma on Tuesday night.

Jonathan Molina and Alex PugaDeLaRosa each scored in regulation for Hoquiam (7-0, 7-1). Julian Hernandez and Edgar Hermenegildo returned fire with goals for Elma (3-4, 3-4).

“When you come over here (to Elma), you know it is going to be a tough game,” HHS head coach Fidel Sanchez said. “We knew when this match started it was going to be a tough one. Elma was determined to take this game away from us and fought and fought and fought. We didn’t play our best game tonight and the guys found a way to get the win. I’m proud of them for that.”

“It was probably a good one for the spectators to watch,” Elma head coach Carson Seaberg said. “It was a physical game, well-played. Both teams missed opportunities. It was a good back-and-forth game. … We just can’t be satisfied, however, with being in good games. You have to win those games.”

The penalty kick shootout started strong with Austin Montoure converting for Hoquiam and Reynaldo Ayala connecting for Elma. Elma goalkeeper Tyler Davis and Hoquiam’s Jamie Bigbie made one save each on the second attempts, holding off Osiel Rivera and Steven Persell, respectively.

Ivan Salguero converted for the Grizzlies and Donovan Bieker responded for the Eagles in the third series, setting up the dramatics. Edgar Fernandez gave HHS a 3-2 lead in the shootout before Trevor Hann missed up high over Bigbie .

Molina ended the shootout by beating Davis to the high right corner.

“You want to play good teams,” Seaberg added. “If your expectation is to make the (state) playoffs and win in the playoffs, then you have to play good games. You have to play games that come down to shootouts. Our district game, Hoquiam’s and Rochester’s games all came down to shootouts — and all three teams lost. Games like this makes teams better.”

“This league needs tough games like this,” Sanchez added. “You can’t expect to just walk through the league like this to get better. Tonight, Elma got better. They outplayed us for some, possibly most, of the game. We tried to get out of here with a win and it was a heck of a fight.”

The vast majority of this match in regulation and overtime was played in the midfield. Neither team enjoyed time to set up nor saw room to roam in a style that could have easily been played in an old-fashioned British police booth.

Hoquiam was hampered by the loss of senior midfielder Israel Fernandez to a severely sprained ankle in the fifth minute of the match. Fernandez is the Grizzlies’ main midfield general and the visitors spent the rest of the time shuffling the lineup to cover for his absence.

With neither time nor space to play in, long balls over the defense were the main source of attacks for both teams. Molina was the first recipient in the 16th minute. Midfielder Mario Joya sent a long ball over three Elma defenders that found Molina in stride and the senior forward slotted the ball past Davis.

Elma erased the deficit nearly at the stroke of halftime. With 50 seconds left, Bieker launched a long free kick from midfield into the Hoquiam penalty box. The ball bounced over a defender and Hernandez hit a header over Bigbie to tie the match.

PugaDeLaRosa took advantage of a Molina run in the 46th minute to give Hoquiam a 2-1 lead. The freshman forward was on the far right post when Molina sent a cross that beat Davis and found him for a one-touch tapper.

Hermenegildo made sure the match would continue when he controlled a scattered ball, dribbled into Hoquiam’s penalty area and beat Bigbie for the match-tying goal in the 74th minute.

On Thursday, Hoquiam hosts Montesano. Elma hosts Tenino on Friday.

while Elma hosts Tenino.