A patented Brenner Carlstrom throw-in produced a dramatic — and controversial — finish to the season’s second Hoquiam-Elma boys soccer showdown.
Carlstrom’s throw-in in the final two minutes resulted in a disputed own goal that gave the Grizzlies a 1-0 victory over the Eagles in an Evergreen 1A League contest Tuesday at Sea Breeze Oval.
By avenging a 3-1 loss last month in Elma, the Grizzlies (4-1, 6-2) won their sixth straight and moved into a virtual tie with the Eagles (5-1, 5-2) for the league lead.
After an evenly played first half, Elma used crisp passing and a trailing wind to control time of possession in the final 40 minutes — although the Grizzlies did muster a few good scoring threats on runs against the flow of play.
Carlstrom, who has handled all of Hoquiam’s throw-ins with considerable effectiveness this season, launched one from the left sideline with perhaps 90 seconds remaining. The ball sailed past a handful of Grizzlies and a wall of defenders and slipped past Elma goalkeeper Tyler Davis into the lower right corner of the net.
Although soccer rules stipulate that a goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in, such a play is legal if the ball touches a player on either team.
The two officials (only one linesman was on hand for this match, but he was stationed on the end of the field in which the play occurred) huddled and ruled that the ball had touched a defender before entering the net — an observation supported by HHS players.
Elma coach Carson Seaberg, who engaged in an animated post-game discussion with the officials afterward, disagreed.
“From where I was, it didn’t touch anyone,” Seaberg said. “Two teams fought hard for 79 minutes and it came down to a play like that.”
“I feel bad for Elma,” Grizzly coach Fidel Sanchez reflected. “It was a good game between the two top teams in the league. I was hoping to win it outright. Sometimes (those things) go your way and sometimes they go against you.”
Visibly energized by the goal, the Grizzlies never gave the Eagles an opportunity to equalize in the brief remaining time span. Hoquiam nearly added an insurance marker in the waning seconds, but Mario Fernandez shot over the top of the net.
Elma’s first scoring chance came in the opening 30 seconds, when Hoquiam goalkeeper Tahj Malone gathered in a long shot by Donovan Bieker. Elma’s Steven Persell got his foot on a Bieker throw-in some 12 minutes later, but Malone went up the ladder to make a stretching save.
Back on their heels in the opening few minutes, the Grizzlies regrouped to enjoy the upper hand for the latter portion of the first half. Their best opportunity in that half came in the 21st minute, when midfielder Alex PugaDeLaRosa took a through ball and hit about a 25-yard shot on which Davis made a diving stop.
Although the Eagles were on the attack for much of the second half, Hoquiam’s defense broke up many of their runs before they could launch quality shots.
Elma’s Andrew Palmer, on a one-on-one thrust, managed to get a ball past the onrushing Malone, but Grizzly defender Angel Mazariegos cleared it out in the 57th minute.
An Elma foul just outside the penalty area gave the Grizzlies a free kick in the 55th minute. Ivan Salguero’s left-footed attempt skimmed over the top crossbar.
“Give credit to our defense,” Sanchez said. “They haven’t given up a goal in a long time.”
The Grizzlies, in fact, notched their fourth consecutive shutout — a streak that has included victories over previously unbeaten La Center and Class 2A River Ridge.
Malone made several acrobatic plays in goal. Sanchez also cited the defensive work of Carlstrom, Mazariegos, Alex Valliere and Pedro Weber-Cruz.
Bieker, who has been shifted from defender to defensive midfield, drew praise from Seaberg for his all-around performance.
Both teams face critical road tests tonight, with Hoquiam visiting Montesano and Elma traveling to Tenino.