Aberdeen’s Achilles Heel this season has been its lack of finishing touch in front of the goal. Centralia snapped that heel on Thursday night.
Playing a defensive, counter-attacking style of soccer, the Tigers got their lone goal off a corner kick in the 54th minute and then weathered the Bobcats’ waves of attacks to steal a 1-0 Evergreen 2A boys soccer win at Stewart Field.
The teams were identical in shots overall — 10-10 — but Centralia put six shots on-goal to Aberdeen’s two, a big difference when the Bobcats more than doubled the Tigers in chances created — 22-10.
“I know I say this after every game, but we had chances to make good plays and didn’t make good touches, didn’t get the ball on-goal,” AHS head coach Larry Fleming said. “We’ve made goalies look like first-team all-league performers over the last 4-5 games. At least once a game, we don’t cover someone on a corner kick — like today — and they scored one.”
Centralia’s defense was pummeled by Aberdeen runs from the get-go. Forwards Isaiah Contreras and Seth Caba started their work with runs and chances on goal. Contreras nearly beat Tigers goalkeeper Brandon Jimenez in the fifth minute, followed by a just-miss over the crossbar two minutes later.
A large gathering of Aberdeen (8-3, 10-3) forwards and midfielders — Caba, Contreras, Alex Barene, Cesar Corona, Victor Corona, Miguel Torres and Victor Junco — quick passed through the Tigers midfield and defense for chances.
Twice, Barene’s free kicks were just missed by Caba for headers on-goal, and the others had mid-range shots that either went wide or were stopped by Centralia (6-5, 6-8) defenders.
“For the most part, our defense was OK; we had lots of scoring chances, but we have to get one in every once in a while if we’re going to win,” Fleming added.
The chances piled up, but Jimenez held the clean sheet through halftime.
Centralia found some life on offense late in the first half, threatening AHS goalkeeper Jake Myers, whose diving save off a corner kick shot by Javier Jocobo in the 32nd minute kept the game scoreless.
After halftime, Contreras nearly gave Aberdeen the lead. On a long ball, Contreras ran it down and beat a charging Jimenez with a quick move to his left. However, the play took him too far left of the goal and Contreras’ half-shot/cross pass was cleared.
Caba and Lewis each had chances in front of goal, but couldn’t convert. Centralia found some opportunities on the counter- attack and struck in the 54th minute.
On a corner kick, forward Edgar Bravo sent a dangerous ball into the heart of the penalty area, where Lurencio Silva blasted the kick home for the marker.
The final 25-plus minutes of the match was filled with Centralia packing 8-9 players back on defense and Aberdeen sending runs over, around and through it.
Contreras had several runs on his own, but shots on-goal were not included. The Tigers, with the Bobcats pressing, found more chances on the counter-attack and long, clearing kicks to relieve pressure.
Myers executed his second diving save of the match on a Bravo corner kick in the 74th minute. In his first game in goal, Myers finished with six saves.
Fleming cited his forwards and midfielders, along with Tony Jo and Mateus Duarte, who took over on defense for players out with illness.
Junior goalkeeper Andres Valdes is out for the season due to violation of team rules earlier this week.
In the junior varsity game, Aberdeen won, 3-0. Jesse Paik scored two goals and Warren Pratt one for the Bobcats.
On Tuesday, Aberdeen hosts Capital on Senior Night.